Research atSunday, SIU | Create. MayInnovate. 6, 2012 Educate. Sunday, May 6, 2012 | The Southern Illinoisan | Page 1
CREATE. INNOVATE. EDUCATE.
at Southern Illinois University
Research at SIU | Create. Innovate. Educate. Sunday, May 6, 2012 | The Southern Illinoisan | Page 2
Finding solutions for local, global issues Dear Friends of the University: The faculty, staff and students of SIU Carbondale are committed to making a positive difference throughout Southern Illinois, the state, the nation, and the global society. We are pleased to share with you just a few examples of the research, creative and outreach activities that take place each day. There are 4,400 universities and colleges in the United States, and only 199 are classified as research universities – including SIU Carbondale. You will find our scholars and researchers in the laboratory, in the field, in the classroom and in the studio, expanding knowledge and contributing to society. As they work alongside these internationally recognized scholars and researchers, our students – including undergraduates – experience the thrill of discovering and sharing new knowledge. We are preparing them today to solve the challenges of tomorrow. The excellence of our students is recognized well beyond the campus. Our graduate students receive prestigious Fulbright, National Science Foundation and Phi Kappa Phi graduate fellowships, among many others. Undergraduate students earn recognition as Udall and Goldwater Scholars, and through invitations to participate in the prestigious Posters on the Hill in Washington, D.C. We recently announced that USA Today named three of our students to this year’s All-USA College Academic Team, an honor reserved for only the top 60 students in the country. Two of our students were named to the 20-member “First Team.” Ours is the only university to place two students on the “First Team.” Our students know they are learning from leaders in their fields, faculty members
who earn recognition from national and international agencies and organizations, who are honored for their contributions of poetry, art, music and playwriting, who become Fulbright Scholars. Our research and creative activities have a significant economic impact on our region. For the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2011, external grants and contracts totaled more than $68 million. Through March of this year, public and private agencies and organizations awarded the University more than $55 million. Technology transfer and commercialization – which you will read about in this section – is also a growing enterprise. Since 2000, SIU Carbondale and our School of Medicine have disclosed 260 inventions, issued 64 licenses/ options, filed 136 patent applications with a resulting 49 issued patents, and received $4.6 million in royalties. The focus of our scholars, researchers and students is on transforming lives. In this section, you will learn about their important work in such areas as cancer, autism, tobacco dependence education, coal gasification, and international white-collar crime. Transforming lives also means serving our local communities through outreach efforts, such as in Olive Branch and Harrisburg, and by adding to the richness of our culture through the performing arts. Remarkably successful careers begin at SIU Carbondale because our students, working with faculty mentors, study and help define solutions for complex and critical local and global problems. I hope you enjoy learning more about our efforts. Rita Cheng Chancellor
PHOTO BY RUSSELL BAILEY
Rita Cheng is the chancellor of Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
ABOUT THIS SECTION This special section on research and creative activities at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is a collaborative effort with The Southern Illinoisan. Staff of SIUC’s University Communications and the SIU School of Medicine’s Public Affairs Office provided all stories and photos.
PHOTO BY STEVE BUHRMAN
Cementless concrete – Hamid Akbari, an engineering science doctoral student in the Department of Mining and Mineral Resources Engineering in the College of Engineering, places a cement-less concrete sample made with coal fly ash in a compression tester to test its strength. Akbari is leading a team of students looking at finding new ways to extract valuable substances from fly ash while also using it to create a different type of concrete that requires no cement. Read the full story on Page 8.
TABLE OF CONTENTS College of Agricultural Sciences Page 3
College of Mass Communication and Media Arts Page 11
College of Applied Sciences and Arts Page 4
College of Science Pages 12-13
College of Business Page 5
School of Law Page 13
College of Education and Human Services Pages 6-7
School of Medicine Page 14
College of Engineering Page 8
Technology Commercialization Pages 15-16
College of Liberal Arts Pages 9-10
Research at SIU | Create. Innovate. Educate. Sunday, May 6, 2012 | The Southern Illinoisan | Page 3
COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES Farm to School: Connecting the dots
Bass explains – Students at Unity Point School in Carbondale listen as local farmer Bill Bass of Bass Farms talks to them about vegetables he raises at his operation. Sylvia Smith, assistant professor of animal science, food and nutrition, worked with Bass and the elementary school to get the locally grown foods onto the local kids’ plates.
There were many benefits, to people’s health, the local economy and support to the farmers. The small- and mid-sized farmers are the guardians of our Earth in a sense. They’re taking care of the land. And this brings a better menu and more knowledge about nutrition to the kids. Sylvia Smith, assistant professor
crops to the school at a fair wholesale price, the cafeteria workers processed the foods and the children ate them. At the same time, they got a chance to visit the farming operation and see where their foods are grown.” The money from the grant paid for cafeteria workers to work part-time during the summer preparing the foods for freezing or, in the case of the tomatoes, turning them into sauce. The foods, in turn, were served to the Unity Point students several times during the fall of 2011. Graduate student Ashley Moss also spent three weeks teaching about 80 thirdgraders about the importance of nutrition and the advantages of local foods. All the third graders also got to take a trip to Bass’ farm. “There were lots of hands-on activities there and the kids had lots of questions,” Smith said.
and be able to overcome them working with one farmer and one school, and I set it up that way intentionally,” Smith said. “I wanted to make it work, not find out why it wouldn’t work.” With the right logistics and attitude, however, Smith said the farm to school programs could work on a wider basis. “It needs support and funding and the schools have to want to do it,” she said. “You need interested participants, meaning the cafeteria workers and of course the farmers. “There were many benefits, to people’s health, the local economy and support to the farmers,” she said. “The small and mid-sized farmers are the guardians of our Earth in a sense. They’re taking care of the land. And this brings a better menu and more knowledge about nutrition to the kids.”
By Tim Crosby
How often do school children – or any of us, for that matter – stop to think about how the veggies on our plate got there? A researcher at Southern Illinois University Carbondale recently led an effort to connect those dots, showing how the food gets from the farm to the school. Sylvia Smith, assistant professor of animal science, food and nutrition, worked with a local farmer and elementary school to get the locally grown foods onto the local kids’ plates. Smith worked with officials at Unity Point Elementary School in Carbondale and Bill Bass, a farmer south of Carbondale, on the project. The study sought to assess nutrition knowledge of third-graders at the school and to increase their fruit and vegetable consumption. Through a $13,000 specialty crop block grant from the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Smith set up an experimental case study that involved bringing Bass’ green beans, tomatoes, zucchini and corn crops to children at the school. At the same time, she and a graduate student taught the students about the benefits of vegetables and fruits, local foods and measured their attitudes about consuming them. “It ended up being a very good experience for everyone,” Smith said. “The farmer supplied and delivered the
Moss and Smith gave students a survey about their vegetable-eating habits before giving them two nutrition classes. After the nutrition classes, the researchers divided the kids into two groups and took one group on a visit to Bass’ farming operation to see if it would have an effect on their fruit and vegetable consumption. They then gave both groups another survey. The kids reported eating more vegetables at home following the farm visit, Smith said, and eventually all the kids got the farm visit and reported eating more vegetables at school. Ulrike Tragoudas, food service director at Unity Point and a registered dietitian, helped plan the program while cafeteria workers Pam Robbins and Becky Golden lightly processed the foods for freezing and later use. She said the program was a win-win that opened a relationship between
the school and a local farmer. “I have tried for years to buy local produce but it is very hard to find farmers who are able to work with schools,” she said. “Difficulties include low price, availability of big quantities, slow payment process. (But) Smith helped us to establish the relationship, negotiate a fair price for both parties involved and helped to decide what produce would be most user-friendly for us as a school. Of course it helped that her grant paid for labor costs.” Tragoudas said the benefits of the program included fresher produce and educational experiences for the students, such as visiting Bass Farms, and that the relationship between the school and farmer continues. Smith said given the right situation and attitudes, there is a lot of room to scale up the case study in the area. “This was just a case study in order to see the obstacles
Chilean Partnership: Helping fish farms By Tim Crosby
Fish farming happens all over the world, and a Southern Illinois University Carbondale fisheries researcher is helping a South American country bring one of its popular ocean game fishes to more plates by farming them. Brian C. Small, associate professor of animal science, food and nutrition in the College of Agricultural Sciences, is working with a government-private research partnership in Chile to domesticate the San Pedro, a strikingly striped, flat-bodied rock fish, a foot or more in length and up to a couple of pounds in girth, that serves as a popular guest on that region’s dinner list. “We really didn’t know anything about these fish,” said Small, who spent several weeks doing research in Chile last year. “It’s a wild fish that has been caught recreationally. It’s got a good flavor, and people really like it. But how it tolerates living in a tank environment nobody knows yet.” Small, a researcher with SIU Carbondale’s Fisheries & Illinois Aquaculture Center, both played host to a visiting researcher from Chile and traveled to the coastal country, where he helped establish some critical baseline research for the effort. Much of Small’s research effort involves finding out how the San Pedro tolerate stress, a critical factor in aquaculture settings. Chronic stress in fish can lead to a host of problems,
Handling stress – Researchers crowd San Pedro fish during a laboratory experiment to see how well the popular game fish might handle the stress of raising them in tanks.
Aquaculture is an important industry for Chile that brings in a lot of money. In Chile, they’re really into their seafood. There are markets and seafood stands right along the streets near the ocean. It’s right there on the water, as fresh as it can be. Brian C. Small, associate professor including less growth and reproduction and higher susceptibility to disease. Small’s research on the item recently was published in the North American Journal of Aquaculture in an article titled “Evaluation of the cortisol stress response in a marine perciform fish, the San Pedro Oplegnathus Insignis.” Aquaculture is nothing new to Chile. Americans buying farm-raised salmon at their local grocery store, for example, are likely benefiting
Setting a baseline – Brian C. Small, right, associate professor of animal science, food and nutrition in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, works with a small San Pedro fish in a laboratory in Chile. Small worked with a government-private research partnership in Chile to domesticate the San Pedro, a strikingly striped, flat-bodied rock fish.
from such fish farming, Small said. But fish species tolerate stress differently and researchers knew little about how the San Pedro would handle typical aquaculture stress. Small was an ideal candidate to help answer that question, as he brought a strong background in such research. As part of the effort, Small welcomed to SIU Carbondale Mariela Puebla, a researcher with CORDUNUP, a biotechnology group leading the San Pedro aquaculture effort in Chile. A chemist, she spent time here learning to take blood samples from fish and conduct other fish stress tests. She also accompanied Small to a federal research laboratory in Mississippi, where they worked together
on some catfish stress experiments. Following Puebla’s visit to the United States, CORDUNUP played host to Small at its ocean-side hatchery and research facility in Hauyquique, Chile, where he participated in a week of seminars and workshops on the San Pedro aquaculture effort. During his weeklong visit, Small gave presentations, worked in the group’s laboratories and even appeared on that country’s CNN television network. Small also helped his hosts run a series of stress experiments on the San Pedro fish they had in captivity. The researchers first took blood samples from the fish under non-stress conditions to establish a baseline for stress-related hormones and
metabolites such as cortisol, glucose and lactate in their systems. The baseline level for cortisol, a prime stresstolerance indicator, appeared to be about 20 nanograms per milliliter of blood. Next, the researchers put the fish into various stressful situations, such as crowding them, lowering the water level of their tank or chasing them with a net while taking blood samples every 10 minutes. The maximum stress response boosted hormone levels to between 200 and 250 nanograms per milliliter, they found. “So this gave us our baseline for future experiments and fish selection,” Small said. “It could tell us a lot – about things like water quality tolerances and handling techniques – that will tell us how to set up aquaculture systems for this fish so that we get maximum growth and production.” Small hopes the research helps the San Pedro aquaculture effort to move forward. He also hopes to return to Chile and continue the research with his colleagues. The regional market in South America for the San Pedro’s white, flaky meat is strong, Small said, making the success of the effort a potential boon for the country and seafood lovers. “Aquaculture is an important industry for Chile that brings in a lot of money,” he said. “In Chile, they’re really in to their seafood. There are markets and seafood stands right along the streets near the ocean. It’s right there on the water, as fresh as it can be.”
Research at SIU | Create. Innovate. Educate. Sunday, May 6, 2012 | The Southern Illinoisan | Page 4
COLLEGE OF APPLIED SCIENCES AND ARTS Teachable Moment: Tobacco intervention By Pete Rosenbery
Sitting in a dentist’s chair might not seem to be an ideal time to talk about tobacco use. But Joan Davis believes that the few moments available as patients rinse can mean lifechanging – possibly life-saving – results. Davis has 37 years experience in the dental health field and has been conducting tobacco dependence research since 2003. She believes more can be done when it comes to providing dental patients with information they can use in making decisions on whether to quit. And her work now includes a recently revamped “Tobacco Free” online curriculum for oral health educators throughout the world to provide greater insight and assistance. Davis, a professor in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Dental Hygiene program, believes there has been some progress with tobacco treatment programs. But nearly five decades after a U.S. Surgeon General’s Report linked smoking with heart disease, the number of people who die each year from cigarette smoking-related illnesses remains staggering. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking, including second-hand smoke, accounts for approximately 443,000 deaths, or one of every five deaths in the nation each year. Davis believes that even a few minutes spent discussing oral health and tobacco use with patients can be beneficial, and provide an avenue for
PHOTO BY STEVE BUHMAN
Tobacco treatment research program – Joan Davis, right, a professor in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Dental Hygiene program, looks at a dental X-ray with Brittany Musick, an undergraduate research assistant.
You have to provide the treatment that the patient is coming in for. But you need to look for the teachable moment, and taking the five or 10 minutes to provide a quality and effective intervention – but that takes training. That is why tobacco treatment needs to be an important part of the curriculum in health care education. Joan Davis, professor and Fulbright Scholar them to seek further help. First introduced in 2004, the tobacco dependence training is available for oral health educators, students, and practicing dental clinicians. Davis has been systematically integrating more tobacco treatment opportunities, initiatives, training programs and curriculum for faculty and students on to the website at www.tobaccofree.siu.edu. The training materials have been requested by more than 300 dental and dental hygiene
programs in the United States and internationally. Davis, who is spending time this spring in Finland as a scholar in the Fulbright Specialist Program, has been assessing the level of tobacco dependence education in dental hygiene curriculum through quantitative and qualitative data. Research shows that most medical and dental health care providers can do more in providing effective tobacco cessation treatment, she said. And while a “great deal” is
being done to help people quit on a one-to-one basis, Davis believes by going “upstream and addressing what health care students are taught in the curriculum will affect more people.” Davis concedes that time is one of the greatest barriers in clinical practices when discussing tobacco cessation with patients. “You have to provide the treatment that the patient is coming in for. But you need to look for the teachable moment,
and taking the five or 10 minutes to provide a quality and effective intervention – but that takes training. That is why tobacco treatment needs to be an important part of the curriculum in health care education.” Davis is also working on a paper for a national journal that compares three national surveys sent over the past 25 years to tobacco cessation educators in the United States. Davis notes that progress is evident: In 1990, a primary issue was whether smoking should be allowed in the dental clinic, while a 2009 survey that Davis authored focuses on the level of tobacco intervention that dental hygienists will offer. Brittany Musick, a senior in the dental hygiene program from Springfield, began working with Davis as part of the University’s undergraduate assistantship program. Among her many research activities was creating a comprehensive list of services and tobacco treatment sites, and reviewing the “Tobacco Free!” online curriculum modules and providing suggestions from a student’s perspective. She developed a dental hygiene student survey to evaluate the use of a new tobacco treatment system, and will contribute a component for the national article that Davis is working on. Musick also reviewed the existing presentation slides and curriculum and offered insight on how to make them more effective, Davis said. “From a student’s perspective, she gave me excellent feedback,” Davis said.
Reaching Out: Architecture students help By Pete Rosenbery
Architecture is not just about the ability to draw straight lines and plot measurements on a design sheet. Community service and outreach are integral components in the School of Architecture – from neighborhood redesign plans in Cairo and Paducah to providing design assistance and consultation to families in Harrisburg whose homes were damaged in the Feb. 29 tornado. Jon Davey, architecture professor, architect, and E.J. and Mary C. Simon Distinguished Faculty, didn’t hesitate to offer assistance in the aftermath of the disaster. Over the course of eight days during spring break, Davey, another faculty member, 10 students and one alumnus provided design assistance to more than 23 families – completing 20 new home designs and three structural consultations. For the students it was a progression of their passion in the field. For Davey it was a growing experience for his students. “They have a different perception of what it means to practice architecture than they did two weeks ago,” Davey said. “We were all on an even level; there was no ‘Here’s the professor and you are the student.’ We are all architects working in that room together.” Sufiyana Momoh, a junior in architectural studies from Port-Harcourt, Nigeria, said the project allowed students
For us to instill professional values in our students that show a concern for and a sense of responsibility and stewardship to the greater community is absolutely a part of the educational mission here. Walter Wendler, School of Architecture director to apply the theories taught in class “in the real world.” Students have recently been involved in projects in Paducah at the invitation of the city’s planning department, the Fountain Avenue Neighborhood Alliance, and the city’s park district. Last summer, Robert Swenson, associate professor and architect, and 13 Master of Architecture students spent time working on design plans for four different styles of historic houses. Students also worked on developing proposals for a two-square block mixeduse residential, commercial, office and educational project. One fall 2011 Urban Design studio section continued the relationship with the city of Paducah, providing “sustainable” urban design proposals for the downtown, an urban college community, and the river’s edge. The opportunity for personal involvement with city officials, business owners, and local residents is key to a student’s professional development, Swenson said. “I don’t know how our students can learn to be practicing architects without learning how to talk to, empathize with, and listen to what people say they believe the problems are,” Swenson
said. “It’s not going in telling them what we (architects) believe they need.” A group of four graduate architecture students that includes Eric Oleson, from Plano, is finishing design plans for a home within Paducah’s Fountain Avenue district. The home is 1,800 square feet and largely gutted. “We went in there and tried to figure out what the house used to be,” said Oleson, who graduates with his master’s degree in August. Oleson earned his bachelor’s degree in architectural studies from SIU Carbondale. Because SIU Carbondale plays such a large role in the region, “we really have a special calling to be responsive to the needs of the community and to reach out, where it is appropriate, to help people with professional suggestion and guidance,” said Walter V. Wendler, director of the School of Architecture, and also a licensed architect. Students have an opportunity to help under the guidance of faculty “that is beyond the dimensions of the program in so many ways,” Wendler said. Any practice that architecture students can receive in dealing with real situations “are good foundational aspects of the professional practice,” he said.
PHOTO BY RUSSELL BAILEY
Designing for safety – Architecture Professor Jon Davey discusses with students the importance of incorporating a Federal Emergency Management Agency-recommended safe room in a walk-in closet of a home in the aftermath of the deadly Feb. 29 tornado in Harrisburg. With Davey are, from left, Megan Crider, Jason Skidmore, Sufiyana Momoh, Erik Illies, Rafat Motan, Richard Master, and Michael Moshler. The students were among those who provided design assistance to families after the tornado.
“As a profession, architects have, in a sense, a social debt to give back to the community and do a good job for the community. “For us to instill professional values in our students that show a concern for and a sense of responsibility and stewardship to the greater community is absolutely a part of the educational mission here,” Wendler said. The community outreach and service prepares students for an intern development program once they receive a professional degree. Architectural interns must complete numerous core competencies in 17 areas, including a minimum 80 hours of community service in addition to taking the national Architectural Registration Exam, said Norman Lach, director of the architectural
studies program in the School of Architecture, chair of the state architecture licensing board, and board member of the American Institute of Architects Illinois. The School of Architecture has a senior level Urban Design and Community Development class that deals with local issues, with students and instructors going to New Orleans, Paducah, Herrin, Carbondale and Chester, said Craig Anz, an associate professor and architect. In addition to setting up case studies for effectively dealing with local issues, Anz also sees it as an opportunity for faculty members across campus. School of Architecture faculty regularly work with faculty in areas including anthropology and geology on projects, he said.
Research at SIU | Create. Innovate. Educate. Sunday, May 6, 2012 | The Southern Illinoisan | Page 5
COLLEGE OF BUSINESS Leveraging Identities: Building loyalty By Christi Mathis
Jane is a mom, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a nurse, an avid runner and enjoys creating scrapbooks and reading. John, a student, also is a vegetarian, a son, an environmental activist and a guy who loves riding motorcycles, boating and hiking. The fictional Janet and John, like all of us, have multiple identities. We don’t just fulfill one role but rather, we are a composite of the many roles in our lives. Now, research by SIU Carbondale faculty member Cheryl Burke Jarvis and colleagues reveals companies can cater to many of those identities to build strong relationships with people. Jarvis, along with Paul W. Fombelle from Northeastern University and James Ward and Lonnie Ostrom from Arizona State University, studied the concept of identity synergy and how, if an organization can help you fulfill multiple identity roles, it affects your loyalty to that organization. Typically, loyalty manifests itself as customers purchase products from a company as well as through resistance to advertising campaigns from competitors. The Journal of Academy of Marketing Science posted online the research paper by Jarvis and colleagues, “Leveraging customers’ multiple identities: identity synergy as a driver of organizational identification.” The journal plans to include the paper in its July print edition. Jarvis said this a premier
marketing journal, within the top five in the field and the second largest marketing strategy journal. Jarvis, an associate professor of marketing in the College of Business, said research has long indicated the importance of having people identify with organizations because that strong connection typically correlates into loyalty in the form of support or purchases from an organization. But, there has long been a belief among marketing experts and psychologists that the roles and identities people embody actually pull them in different directions, resulting in stress. However, this new research is the first to demonstrate that marketers can leverage a customer’s multiple societal roles to build and reinforce the relationship between the customer and the company, Jarvis said. “Our research shows that if an organization can help you fulfill a number of your most valued roles, you identify more strongly with and are more loyal to that organization. For the organization, that typically means you are loyal to them, their product or their service,” said Jarvis. Some 2,800 surveys completed by patrons of the Phoenix Zoo, coupled with patron interviews, served as the basis for the study. The researchers asked patrons about their various roles and how they juggle their responsibilities and identities. The poll also queried respondents about what evokes positive feelings and loyalty toward the zoo.
PHOTO BY RUSSELL BAILEY
Associate Professor Cheryl Burke Jarvis
Our research shows that if an organization can help you fulfill a number of your most valued roles, you identify more strongly with and are more loyal to that organization. For the organization, that typically means you are loyal to them, their product or their service. Cheryl Burke Jarvis, associate professor of marketing Patrons identified themselves as environmentalists, parents, community supporters, friends of animals and more. Jarvis said a substantial number even cited a religious connection, saying they feel close to God and nature when they visit the zoo. By determining what roles people fill and finding ways to cater to and integrate a number of those roles, the zoo, and other entities as well, can encourage people to feel a strong connection to them, Jarvis said. Likewise, encouraging peer identification is also beneficial, the research found. If the zoo creates more opportunities for customers to interact with others who share their roles, it cements a positive connection to not only one another but
also to the zoo. This explains why things like car or motorcycle organizations are so popular, she said. Through magazines, special events, online forums and more, manufacturers connect people with similar interests. Likewise, businesses cater to multiple roles in various ways, such as allowing pet owners to bring their animals to say, a hardware store, thus feeding their identities as pet lovers, homeowners and do-ityourselfers. Another example is a popular furniture store that offers a snack bar and provides a free play area for children. The more of these connections that exist and the stronger they are for each customer within his or her various life roles, the more loyal the customer is,
Jarvis said research shows. “The more customers identify with a company, the more they feel they are a part of the company and relate to it, the more loyal they tend to be and that is a positive outcome for the company. “Our research indicates that by finding ways to bond with people in their various roles, companies can alleviate role stress in their customers, build confidence and actually help customers integrate the multiple identities while inspiring loyalty,” Jarvis said. For businesses and companies, the implication is obvious. Find out about your customers and provide them with opportunities to live their roles through their connection with the company in order to help them fulfill the obligations of their multiple identities and to create a bond that benefits the company as well. From the customer standpoint, Jarvis said the research encourages people to look for companies that are finding ways to help them fulfill their various roles, even simultaneously, as this reduces role conflict tension.
Local Impact: Study explores landfills By Christi Mathis
Even the best efforts to create a “green” society can’t totally eliminate trash, it seems. It’s got to go somewhere, and the ‘where’ has repercussions, good or bad. Royce D. Burnett, the KPMG Research Professor in Accountancy in SIU Carbondale’s College of Business, is working with two students on a research project that looks at the dual factors of economic and environmental sustainability in counties. The team is assessing the extent to which county refuse and landfill management activities as well as public awareness of those activities affect economic development. Working with Burnett on the research project are Diamond Garner, a master’s in accounting student from Chicago, and Scott Polczynski, a junior accounting major from DuBois. “There’s always garbage. It just doesn’t go away. It has to go somewhere. Our research is studying how you account for and manage garbage and how that affects the way a county is perceived and potentially its economy,” Burnett said. Burnett is basing his study on data from the 1,000 most populated counties in the nation according to the 2000 census numbers. Just collecting the data is a huge task and as they gather the information, they’re also exploring another aspect.
PHOTO BY STEVE BUHMAN
Refuse impact – Scott Polczynski, left, a junior accounting major from Du Bois, works with Royce Burnett, associate professor in accounting, and Diamond Garner, a master’s in accounting student from Chicago, on a research project studying the economic and environmental sustainability of counties.
Some counties post their comprehensive annual financial reports online where they are readily accessible and others don’t. Burnett said the accessibility of details and willingness of counties to share information is one component of the study. Then, using data for the years 2005-2008, Burnett and his assistants are going to analyze the information in a number of ways. They’ll look at health care, education, and other services each county provides and see how they manage it all fiscally. Then, when there are landfills involved, they’ll also look at the revenues and expenditures involved currently and also in light of long-term planning, since by law monitoring a landfill must go on for at least 30 years after a facility closes. “Particularly in today’s
economy, our governments have many demands on their limited resources so it’s important that they have adequate information to be able to better manage the funds they have,” Burnett said. On the one hand, landfills frequently provide host fees, jobs and other income to a county. On the other, there are a number of costs incurred in overseeing operations and the potential that a landfill could positively or negatively affect a county’s economic development. How does a landfill affect the economic development and economic performance of a county? Burnett believes his work will answer that question and more. “At the end of the day it all comes back to being able to make more informed decisions regarding resource
The information from this research will enable county governments to have the knowledge to plan for today and for their long-term future, to make decisions and budget properly to assure their county continues to operate soundly, from a perspective that takes into account fiscal, health care, environmental, service and other factors. Royce D. Burnett, KPMG research professor in accountancy allocation and management. The information from this research will enable county governments to have the knowledge to plan for today and for their long-term future, to make decisions and budget properly to assure their county continues to operate soundly, from a perspective that takes into account fiscal, health care, environmental, service and other factors,” Burnett said. Burnett and his team aren’t drawing any conclusions at this time, as there remains much research work to do. But, they are confident that regardless of what the research shows, it will prove valuable to counties and governmental entities as
they make future decisions regarding waste management and the financial implications. In the meantime, the work is already providing a valuable learning experience, they say. Polczynski was anxious to explore research possibilities upon his arrival at the University and is learning a lot through his work with Burnett, he said. “I’m really building my communication and teamwork skills,” he said. With plans to go on to earn his master’s degree in accounting at SIU Carbondale and become a CPA, Polczynski said he believes the research and the skills he’s honing will be beneficial to his future clients. Garner got involved in the project through her graduate dean’s fellowship and said it’s taught her a lot already. “I’m gaining a lot of knowledge about landfill accounting and disclosures and this is the kind of information and experience that is very important in the real world,” Garner said. She’ll be wrapping up her master’s coursework in June and will graduate in August. She’s already landed a position with Deloitte Tax LLC in Chicago as a tax consultant and she’s convinced that her hands-on learning regarding financial statements, disclosures and county records and accounting will benefit her, her clients, and those who will ultimately learn from the research.
Research at SIU | Create. Innovate. Educate. Sunday, May 6, 2012 | The Southern Illinoisan | Page 6
COLLEGE OF EDUCATION AND HUMAN SERVICES WIN: Promoting physical activity We’re looking at the whole spectrum and trying to reach all ages, from the very young of about age seven to the elderly, to make them aware of the benefits of sport and exercise. Bobbi Knapp, assistant professor of kinesiology
WIN directors, advisory board members By Christi Mathis
Members of the board of directors for WIN for Southern Illinois include: • Kay Brechtelsbauer, emeritus visiting assistant professor of physical education and former softball coach for SIU Carbondale. The “Coach B Tournament” that begins the Saluki softball home games for the season bears her name. • Elizabeth Cook of Southern Illinois Roller Girls • Erin Dickson, recreation coordinator for the Carbondale Park District • Cheryl Endres, vice president of Silkworm • Nichole Galloway, respiratory/neurology coordinator for Southern Illinois Healthcare • Jeff Goelz, assistant director at SIU Carbondale Recreational Sports and Services • Molly Hudgins, chair of the department of sports management at Lindenwood University and founder of Future College Golf Association • Bobbi Knapp, assistant professor in SIU Carbondale’s Department of Kinesiology • Emma Moburg-Jones, coowner of CrossFit So Ill • Jen Sewell, associate softball coach at SIU Carbondale • Charlotte West, emeritus faculty member, coach and administrator who concluded her career at SIU Carbondale as associate athletics director • Kim Wheeler, chair of the health department and coach at Carbondale Community High School The organization also has an advisory board. Members are: • Cindy Corn, women’s golf coach at Rend Lake College • Jessica Mann, computer information specialist with University Communications at SIU Carbondale • Betty Montgomery, retired faculty member • Julie Partridge, associate professor in SIU Carbondale’s Department of Kinesiology • Judy Rawls, retired SIU Carbondale administrator • Julie Schmale, program manager with Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois • Greg Scott, associate director of the SIU Foundation • Juliane Wallace, associate professor in SIU Carbondale’s kinesiology department • Kaitlyn Warbritton, kinesiology undergraduate student from Danville • Amy Wright, school health coordinator for Southern Illinois Healthcare • Wei Hsiang “Shiang” Tsao, kinesiology graduate student from Taiwan.
PHOTO BY STEVE BUHMAN
WIN for Southern Illinois – Jen Sewell, left, associate softball coach at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, talks with Alicia Junker, a senior sport administration major and Saluki softball player from Saugus, Calif., and Bobbi Knapp, kinesiology assistant professor about WIN for Southern Illinois. Knapp and Sewell are lead organizers for the new non-profit organization created to educate and empower girls and women in Southern Illinois through sport and physical activity.
By Christi Mathis
Improving the health and well being of women throughout Southern Illinois is the goal of a new non-profit organization spearheaded by faculty and staff at SIU Carbondale. The goal of the Women’s Intersport Network (WIN) for Southern Illinois is “Educating and empowering girls and women in Southern Illinois through sport and physical activity” and the group has hit the ground running with plans for special events, programming and initiatives. The group originated from discussions between Bobbi Knapp, assistant kinesiology professor, and Jennifer “Jen” Sewell, associate head softball coach for the University. Sewell was a student in Knapp’s sport studies class. As they discussed women in sports and physical activity and the many positive effects, they pondered similar women’s organizations in Missouri and the success of those groups. Sewell learned more by talking to Holly Hesse, a friend who is the head softball coach at Missouri State University in Springfield, the site of a similar successful program. Overseeing WIN for Southern Illinois is a board of directors and an advisory board, each comprised of men and women from all walks of life who have an interest in the health and well being of girls and women in the region. The Secretary of State’s office awarded incorporation to WIN in February and the efforts to become registered are under way. Loosely patterned on similar Missouri programs in Kansas City, Springfield and Columbia, WIN for Southern Illinois is initially focusing on building membership, fundraising and planning special programs and events that help fulfill the group’s mission and goals, Knapp said. They are taking a multi-tier approach that begins with developing a better awareness of sports and physical activities available to girls and women in the Southern Illinois region, Knapp said. Organizers want WIN to build networks offering resources advocating the
This is a fantastic way to encourage Southern Illinois girls and women to get involved. We want to help them learn about the opportunities that already exist and provide more opportunities as well as recognizing women for their involvement in sport and physical activity. Jen Sewell, associate head softball coach lifetime value of sports and fitness and promoting these opportunities in the region. WIN also plans to enhance awareness of sports and physical activity opportunities and introduce women to them, publicize the value of such activities, and recognize the participation, contributions and achievements of girls and women in sports and physical activity, Knapp said. “WIN is a great program because it has an integrated approach. It serves as a resource and it builds, creates, recognizes and rewards sport and physical activity in women. It’s a synergetic effect,” Sewell said. “It is also community-based and that’s important. This is a fantastic way to encourage Southern Illinois girls and women to get involved. We want to help them learn about the opportunities that already exist and provide more opportunities as well as recognizing women for their involvement in sport and physical activity.” Knapp said the many proven benefits of physical activity and sport for women are best summed up in “Her Life Depends on It: Sport, Physical Activity and the Health and Well-Being of American Girls,” a 2004 publication from The Women’s Sports Foundation. The report notes a number of health risks women face including obesity, heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, tobacco or drug use, sexual risks, teen pregnancy, depression, suicide, problematic weight loss behavior and more. Yet it also cites proven connections between sport and physical activity and reducing these risks. For instance, studies indicate that one-three hours of exercise weekly during a woman’s reproductive lifetime reduces the risk of breast cancer by 20 percent to 30 percent, while four or more hours of exercise weekly can reduce the risk
nearly 60 percent. Women who exercise or participate in sports regularly have lower suicide and depression rates, are less likely to smoke or take illicit drugs and typically have better academic performance, the report states. “There are many positive social, psychological, health, leadership potential and other outcomes when women are involved in sport and physical activity,” Knapp said. WIN for Southern Illinois hosted an informational table at a recent University women’s softball game and plans are in the works for a big event July 21. Set for 8 a.m. to noon at the Student Recreation Center, women and girls of all ages are welcome to attend and explore a variety of programs and sporting activities at no cost. There will be information about this and other activities on the organization’s website, www. winsoill.com. The morning offers a chance to learn more about fitness for seniors, psychological skills techniques, and have blood pressure, heart rate and fitness assessments. There will be a variety of physical activities too, including yoga, hoops, self-defense, softball, basketball, rugby introduction and golf. At the more intense end of the sports spectrum, participants can check out the climbing wall, spinning and CrossFit. There will also be group activities including folk dance, zumba and team building. Knapp said plans call for about 20 different options to show girls and women just a few of the many activities available to them in the region. That’s just the beginning though, for WIN for Southern Illinois. They’ll be helping with a Girl Scout day camp in Makanda in August, and they’re planning an awards night to recognize area high school and college athletes and to honor those who are active in women’s sports programs.
“We’re looking at the whole spectrum and trying to reach all ages, from the very young of about age seven to the elderly, to make them aware of the benefits of sport and exercise,” Knapp said. Knapp said it’s a happy coincidence that this organization is starting up as the 40th anniversary of Title IX approaches on June 23. She notes that since the gender equity law went into effect, the number of girls participating in sports has gone from 1 in 27 in 1972 to the current 1 in 2.5. “People said that girls weren’t interested in sports, but once given the opportunity, we have seen a huge increase in the number of girls and women participating in sports. Yet, there is still a lot to be done on this front,” Knapp said. She said many people are uninformed about the law and its implementation and there are still disparities between men’s athletic programs and women’s. Alicia Junker, a senior sport administration major and scholarship softball player from Saugus, Calif., says she is one the beneficiaries of Title IX and is an excited proponent for WIN for Southern Illinois. “I definitely think promoting female athletic activities is a huge deal. We need to give young girls and women of all ages opportunities so even if they don’t want to do competitive sports it’s important that they have choices for physical activity and that they know what all is out there. I think this program can help them find new passions and attain healthy lifestyles in a fun way,” Junker said. For more information about WIN for Southern Illinois, visit the website at www.winsoill. com, “like” WIN for Southern Illinois on Facebook, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 618453-3324.
Research at SIU | Create. Innovate. Educate. Sunday, May 6, 2012 | The Southern Illinoisan | Page 7
COLLEGE OF EDUCATION AND HUMAN SERVICES
PHOTO BY CHRISTI MATHIS
Reading time – Cameron, 2, talks about the puppies in his book with Lisa Kornacki, left, a graduate student in behavioral analysis from Milwaukee, Wis., and Kirsten Schaper, speech pathologist and clinic director for the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Early Intervention: Autism Center helps By Christi Mathis
Like any mom, Laura couldn’t wait to hear her son Cameron say her name. But the adorable 2-year-old “had never called me Mom, Mommy or Mama,” she said. Never, that is, until he started visiting the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders at SIU Carbondale’s Rehabilitation Institute. “After a few sessions, Cameron now calls me Mama,” Laura said with a big smile. Julie has seen a transformation in her daughter Allie, 2, as well. “She has learned how to communicate with us, expressing her wants and needs,” Julie said. “It has greatly improved our communication and relationship with our daughter.” Allie and Cameron are among the eight area children now participating in a new infants and toddlers group at the center. There, University students and staff work with children ages 1-3. The center just added the infant and toddler group a few months ago and already has doubled the number of infants and toddlers seen there. “The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has made the identification and treatment of infants and toddlers either at risk for or with autism a national priority. Research shows that behavioral treatment is most effective the earlier it begins. SIU is the only center in the network of centers that the Autism Program of Illinois supports that is providing behavioral treatment for this young age group,” said Ruth Anne Rehfeldt, professor in the Behavioral Analysis and Therapy Program and director of the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders. “The center employs evidence-based interventions based upon applied behavior
It is important to start intervention early so we can make changes while the brain is still plastic, so we can interrupt the stereotypic behavior of Autism Spectrum Disorders like not engaging with other people. We help children play with toys appropriately, communicate their wants and needs, follow basic instructions. Kirsten Schaper, speech/language pathologist and clinic director analysis,” Rehfeldt said. While some in the field advocate for biomedical treatments, special diets and other treatments, those plans can be expensive and there simply isn’t evidence to prove they work, Rehfeldt said. Research demonstrates that “earlier, more intensive treatments are associated with better outcomes,” said Kirsten Schaper, speech/language pathologist and clinic director for the center. “It is important to start intervention early so we can make changes while the brain is still plastic, so we can interrupt the stereotypic behavior of Autism Spectrum Disorders like not engaging with other people. We help children play with toys appropriately, communicate their wants and needs, follow basic instructions,” Schaper said. The center utilizes the Early Start Denver Model, one of a handful of programs in the country to do so, and it is proving very effective, she said. Developed in 2010, the model utilizes the applied behavior analysis method, a long-proven technique. In a nutshell, here’s how it works. A child needs to learn how to ask for something, perhaps a cookie. The staff member will show the child the cookie and suggest he point to it or ask for it. When he does so, he gets social praise and the cookie. Sometimes the desired response can be as simple as pointing to a picture in a book. It may sound simple, but it’s often not when a child has ASD. By vocalizing and demonstrating, staff members
and students help the children learn appropriate responses. Schaper notes that all children learn by imitation, it is just sometimes more difficult for children with ASD to connect with people, thus making imitation less likely without intervention. “We try to incorporate what they’re interested in while always trying to expand their preferred activity lists,” Schaper said. The techniques are working and Schaper has success stories to share. A 2-year-old barely uttered a few oneword comments and refused to follow directions when he first came to the center. Now, he makes requests like “I want blue paint” using four-word sentences, follows a routine, and engages in pretend play like hide and seek. And, he’ll talk on the way to the center about being excited that he gets to play with a friend there. Another child would cry and scream continuously, trying to run out the door when he first came to the center. Now, he walks independently into the room, follows his individualized picture schedule for activities and participates happily in activities. Schaper said they no longer see challenging behavior from either child, no tantrums or crying. Moms Laura and Julie say the program, recommended to them by Cameron’s developmental therapist and Allie’s therapists in her Early Intervention Program, has been great for their children and families. “My son has become a different child since he has
started receiving therapy here at SIU,” Laura said. She said Cameron loves singing songs, wagon rides outside, coloring and painting and “every part” of his visits. “Cameron has really started to become more vocal since he has begun attending SIU. It’s exciting to hear and see all the positive changes in Cameron,” she said. Julie agrees. “This is a fantastic program that provides my daughter individualized, one-on-one attention. It encourages her strengths and helps her to learn new things. In the short time we have been participating in the program, we are thrilled by her accomplishments and excited about her progress for the future,” Julie said. Schaper said there is actually an entire ASD spectrum, a whole range of different problems that children experience. Not only do the difficulties vary from child to child, but they vary throughout one’s childhood and even one’s entire lifespan. Sometimes, children with ASD have other conditions as well, like an intellectual disability such as mental retardation, and this can affect the success of treatment. But, nevertheless, she said they are seeing significant progress in all of the children in the program. The center, begun in 2003 with grant funding, is not a replacement for other programs and interventions, Schaper said. Rather, it is a demonstration lab, helping children and families as it serves as an educational experience for University students and as a training site
for professionals in the field. “We are here to supplement and be a resource for community services,” Schaper said. “We are an incredible bargain for the state. With just 3.5 staff positions, the center helps many children, produces a great number of students trained in the best practices and assessment and treatment of ASD, and works with service providers in the community to provide training and assist in a number of ways,” she said. About 28 graduate students are working at the center this semester along with some undergraduates. “When you go through classes, you learn the terminology and everything but here, you learn to apply it. You really get to understand all of the concepts you’ve been learning about,” said Rabecca Woodhurst, a senior rehabilitation studies/ communication disorders and sciences student from Rock Falls. Rehfeldt said the center also serves as a collaborative site with students and faculty from various other academic disciplines working together. The Autism Program of Illinois awarded the center a $30,000 research grant to evaluate and revise behavioral skills instructional procedures for graduate students in the Physician Assistant Program to better enable them to detect ASD symptoms in young patients. Students and staff work throughout the community in school programs and clinical settings and there’s also an after-school program for children. Sherell Sparks, rehabilitation counselor, is also now establishing the Transition to Adulthood program to help high school students with ASD successfully attend college and university students successfully transition to adulthood and careers.
Research at SIU | Create. Innovate. Educate. Sunday, May 6, 2012 | The Southern Illinoisan | Page 8
COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING Fly Ash: Reducing coal’s carbon footprint By Tim Crosby
Coal is a hugely useful natural resource that fuels the vast majority of electricity generating plants throughout the world. But its solid byproduct, fly ash and bottom ash, as well as the carbon dioxide gas produced when it is burned, present environmental challenges. Researchers at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, however, also think the fly ash presents opportunities, and that a new way of making concrete could help cut down on coal’s overall carbon footprint. Hamid Akbari, an engineering science doctoral student in the Department of Mining and Mineral Resources Engineering in the College of Engineering, is leading a team of students looking at finding new ways to extract valuable substances from fly ash while also using it to create a different type of concrete that requires no cement. Working with a preliminary grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, and under the guidance of Manoj Mohanty, professor of mining and mineral resources engineering, and Sanjeev Kumar, professor and chair of the Department of Civil Engineering and Environmental Engineering, Akbari’s team PHOTO BY STEVE BUHMAN hopes their efforts will lead to Student team – A team of undergraduate and graduate students pose with samples of various coal fly ash and some of the minerals fewer environmental impacts they have extracted from it using a new method while also using by reducing and repurposing the remaining fly ash to create a different type of concrete that the coal leftovers. requires no cement. Team members include, bottom to top: Sudha The team is working to prove Bhusal, master’s student in civil and environmental engineering; Sang Shin, engineering science doctoral student in civil and environmental its concepts while competing engineering; team leader Hamid Akbari, engineering science doctoral for a larger EPA grant that student in mining and mineral resources engineering; Nick Culberth, would allow them to scale up undergraduate student in mining and mineral resources engineering; their pilot projects to a more Mohammad Rahman, doctoral student in geology; Pravin Jha, industrial size. engineering science doctoral student in civil and environmental Coal combustion creates engineering; and Tom Heller, undergraduate student in mechanical engineering and energy processes. about 136 million tons of fly
This preliminary finding supports our original hypothesis and suggests the feasibility of using Illinois coal ash as a suitable feed stock for the geopolymer concrete. It may replace conventional cement-based concrete some day in the future. Manoj Mohanty, professor of mining and mineral resources engineering ash each year in the United States. Less than 45 percent of that is being mitigated through various processes and the rest is dumped as waste in ash ponds at power plants and landfills, Mohanty said. The team is experimenting with fly ash from several different areas of Illinois, which they are feeding into a multistage pilot processing system aimed at extracting valuable substances, metal oxides and minerals, which can make up 10 to 20 percent of the ash material. Another, parallel path of the research involves using processed fly ash to create geopolymer concrete. Fly ash in its raw, unprocessed state is what is left over when coal is burned, such as in a power plant. The high temperatures present in such combustion create structures known as cenospheres, which can be highly useful as fillers in concrete and ceramics and certain paints and coatings. The fly ash also contains
magnetite, a naturally magnetic mineral that is used in a variety of industrial and environmental applications, and other minerals and metal oxides. Recovering the minerals helps the environment by cutting down on the amount of mining for them that must take place, Mohanty said. The process could eventually be applied to ash ponds that are rich in such minerals. While commercializing such value-recovering efforts is one goal, the other involves creating cement-less, geopolymer-based concrete formulizations using fly ash. The vast majority of concrete is formulated using the Portland method, which uses traditional cement. That method, while tried and true, also creates a substantial carbon footprint that might account for up to 8 percent of total CO2 emissions. The concept of geopolymer concrete is not new, and it is being used in pavement in Australia, Akbari said. But the team is working on new ways to formulate it that will lead not only to fly ash utilization but high strength and efficiencies. Some tests by the team have resulted in geopolymer concrete that has higher compressive strength than traditional Portland cement concrete samples. “This preliminary finding supports our original hypothesis and suggests the feasibility of using Illinois coal ash as a suitable feed stock for the geopolymer concrete,” Mohanty said. “It may replace conventional cement-based concrete some day in future.”
Synthetic Gas: Making it clean, efficient By Tim Crosby
In the evolving business of coal gasification, the holy grail of efficiency lies in two words: pressure and temperature. Creating those two unnatural conditions – high pressure and high temperature – are the leading costs in turning the energy-dense solid substance into a cleaner, more efficient and versatile synthetic gas. Coal gasification, typically, is a bit of a cook’s recipe in most cases. Depending on the type of coal and its content, engineers must subject it to certain amounts of heat, pressure and catalysts in order to convert it to so-called syngas. Syn-gas, in turn, can be burned in gas turbines to make electricity or converted to liquid fuels such as gasoline, diesel or jet fuel. Researchers at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, however, are looking closely at the main ingredient in this mixture – coal – and how manipulating its wide-ranging mineral content might help engineers more readily convert it to gas. Tomasz Wiltowski, professor of mechanical engineering and energy processes, is leading an effort funded by a state economic development grant to find ways to actually prepare coal for gasification. If successful, such processes would likely lower the energy needed to subject the coal to the higher pressures and temperatures needed to make the switch. Along with its combustible, organic energy-producing content, coal also contains
I always say I fall in love with iron. It’s very cheap, and it’s practically everywhere and it’s one of the main components of the coal mineral matter. And I believe it could be a catalyst for gasification in certain forms. If you can find ways to manipulate the iron to make this work, bingo, it’s the best way to go. Tomasz Wiltowski, professor of mechanical engineering and energy processes
Coal gasification – Tomasz Wiltowski, professor of mechanical engineering and energy processes, works with a coal gasification device in a laboratory at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He is leading an effort funded by a state economic development grant to find ways to prepare coal for gasification. If successful, such processes could lower the energy needed to subject the coal to the higher pressures and temperatures needed to convert it to synthetic gas, a highly versatile fuel that can be burned in gas turbines to make electricity or converted to liquid such as gasoline, diesel or jet fuel.
many other minerals and metal oxides that do not burn. Such impurities become the fly ash and bottom ash left over when coal is burned. Iron, magnetite, aluminum, titanium and others can make up a small percentage of the coal. The researchers are working on approaches that could turn this situation to a gasification advantage in two ways. First, by simply removing some of the impurities before gasification, the process should become more efficient. Secondly, if some of those impurities can be manipulated and transformed to act as catalysts that speed up the gasification, the result should again be higher efficiency. “We are taking coal samples and preparing them for gasification by looking at
those other minerals and such as catalysts that can speed up the process, resulting in using less energy to gasify the coal,” Wiltowski said. “We are looking at in effect breaking the coal into pieces and saying ‘OK, this piece may work for gasification, we’ll leave it in. But this may not, let’s take it out.’ “Also, when you’re supplying the heat for gasification you are also heating the material in the coal that is useless in that process. So we’re not only looking at the rate of gasification, the speed, but also at ways to make it lower temperatures, lower pressures, which translates into dollars,” he said. Working along with Sue Rimmer, professor of geology, and Manoj Mohanty,
professor of mining and mineral resources engineering, Wiltowski’s research is funded by a $140,000 grant from the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The group has worked for the last year experimenting with the concept and creating seed data that they hope will translate into a much larger U.S. Department of Energy grant next year that will take it to the next level. The researchers are looking at a variety of coal approaches. “We have samples where we remove 10, 20, 50 percent of minerals in a selective way, leaving those that we believe may help,” he said. “Some of them help, some of them inhibit. We have some nice data that is very promising.” Working at both the SIU
Carbondale campus and at the Illinois Coal Development Park in Carterville, Wiltowski said if they are successful the research would not only lead to better efficiency in gasification but could provide a starting point for finding ways to gasify both coal and biomass together. Such a process would hold much promise both in terms of renewable energy abundance and lessened environmental impacts. One component common to coal – and that is near and dear to Wiltowski’s heart – is iron. In its various forms, iron can make up to 20 percent of the coal’s mineral content. “I always say I fall in love with iron,” Wiltowski said. “It’s very cheap, and it’s practically everywhere and it’s one of the main components of the coal mineral matter. And I believe it could be a catalyst for gasification in certain forms. If you can find way to manipulate the iron to make this work, bingo, it’s the best way to go.” While iron makes up a large portion of the coal’s mineral content, there are many others that make up 1 percent or less of that content. But those are not escaping the researchers’ gaze either. The group is looking at ways that gasification plants might create the conditions that would cause such minerals to diffuse into the surface of the coal, in a way that simulates the preparation of the catalytic process currently used in such plant. “So this is something we’re exploring that really isn’t widely done,” Wiltowski said.
Sunday, May 6, 2012 | Page 9
CREATE. INNOVATE. EDUCATE. Research at Southern Illinois University
COLLEGE OF LIBERAL ARTS
Outside the Box: Promoting new music By Andrea Hahn
It doesn’t get any fresher than made from scratch. It’s no surprise that the Southern Illinois University Carbondale Outside the Box New Music Festival features new music in the classical tradition. The six-year-old festival presents the work of contemporary composers, with compositions written especially to debut at the festival a growing tradition. This year, though, the festival promoted an unprecedented level of newness with the Unaccompanied Song Project. The project was a collaboration among students from the School of Music and the Department of English, and visiting artist Lucy Shelton. The end goal of the project was the public performance of new music by emerging composers sung by fresh singers with words written by poets still honing their craft. Some may have been practicing the arts of music composition, vocal performance or poetry writing for years already before now, but, as students, they are new to their chosen professions as artists. The project began last fall, when the poet/composer/singer teams, assigned at random, met for the first time. They worked together from then until the late spring, with the help of workshops Shelton conducted in February during a two-day residency, and with the help of SIU’s Diane Coloton, vocal mentor. Shelton worked with the students during the festival as well, helping to put the final
polish on the compositions before the public workshop performance. Shelton’s inclusion in this project is significant because she is significant. The soprano has more than 100 premieres to her name, and her version of the difficult “Pierrot Lunaire” has become nearly the definitive one. Critics all over the country, and in several other countries as well, praise not only her voice and her interpretation of the music she approaches, but also her active support of contemporary composers. Kathleen Ginther, faculty member and composer in the School of Music, and the creative force behind the Outside the Box festival, said Shelton promotes the teaching of new music early in a singer’s career, rather than later as is often the case. That, Ginther said, is one of the reasons she most wanted Shelton to visit and work with SIU Carbondale students. Shelton’s role was to help the singers explore the nuances presented to them by the music, the expression provided by the words, and the unique interpretation of the music that became their own. How the students actually began their “unaccompanied song” project was up to them. Chris Mitchell, a graduate student composer from Jacksonville, Ill., met with poet Jung Hae Chae, who hails from Jersey City, N.J. She had several poems she felt might lend themselves to music, and Mitchell chose one with “music” in the title -- “Night Music.”
PHOTO BY CHRISTI MATHIS
Mentoring moment – Frank Stemper, right, is professor and composer-in-residence at SIU Carbondale School of Music. Here he works with music composition graduate student Chris Mitchell on an extended performance technique, using a piano in other than the usual way to create new sounds. Mitchell’s composition was part of the public performance of the Unaccompanied Song Project during the Outside the Box New Music Festival held annually at SIU Carbondale.
When I’m writing for more than one instrument, I think it’s important to understand the capabilities of each instrument – what can it do, what sounds can it make, what are its properties. The same is true of writing for a particular person’s voice. Chris Mitchell, graduate student composer Mitchell first became enamored with playing music at about 12 years old and began writing music the next year. When he writes music without words, his inspiration, he said, might be a memory, or bottled-up emotions in need of expression -- a different inspiration every time. For this project, the poem was his map, he said. “I took the words as a way to get started, to guide me,” he said. “When I’m writing for more than one instrument,
I think it’s important to understand the capabilities of each instrument -- what can it do, what sounds can it make, what are its properties. The same is true of writing for a particular person’s voice.” Mitchell confessed he’d approached the project thinking he’d write for a female voice. Then he met his singer, Nathan Staub, a senior from Paris, Ill. Mitchell made some changes, but he also challenged Staub to expand his range. Anna Luxion, a senior from Glen Ellyn, sang a piece composed by Kathleen Mykytyn, a graduate student from Carbondale, with words from graduate student Andrea Wagner, from Edwardsville. Luxion came to SIU Carbondale with a dual focus on music and creative writing. After she arrived, she developed an interest in music composition. Naturally, this project appealed to her immediately. For Wagner, the project was a bit of a mystery at first. She wasn’t certain her poetry would easily translate to song. Chae, on the other hand, said she believes “it is not at all unnatural to think of poems as songs.” She said poems “carry rhythms or cadences or emotive pitches that resonate
naturally in our ears or via other sense-perceptions.” Both poets expressed curiosity about the final composition, and were eager to hear their words, written as poems and not as music, translated into a new and different art form. Another element to this project is the mentoring, not just with Shelton and the singers, but also with the composition students and SIU Carbondale composers Ginther, and Frank Stemper, professor and composer-in-residence. Stemper addressed a subject the students steered clear of -- the intimidation factor. He noted that writing a song -- even one that might be so untraditional as to defy the popular definition of “song” -- for a solo voice, unaccompanied, can be “terrifying, for the composer and the singer, too.” “You have to let the sound of that one voice stand there naked, giving -- along with the words -- the audience all the information,” he said. And yet, for all the aloneness of the one voice, he noted that the collaborative nature of this project united the students with each other, and with timeless tradition.
Music Mentors: Students learn by doing By Andrea Hahn
There are mentors who help, over time, to form a student’s whole way of thinking. And there are brief but close encounters with teachers that change a student’s life in a burst. The Outside the Box New Music Festival, an annual event at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is, as the name suggests, a celebration of music in performance. It is also, and has been from the start, a learning-by-doing opportunity for students so full of advantages that one faculty member called it “critical” to the program. “During this festival, our students have very close contact with some of the most innovative performers in the world,” Eric Mandat, professor
and Distinguished Scholar, said. “The musicians who visit are here for a whole week or longer, and they are involved very directly with the students. It’s an uncommon opportunity that is not available at every university.” However, the opportunity to work with performers and composers known world-wide would have little significance if the students weren’t prepared to bring something of their own to the table. That’s where the mentoring comes in -- with SIU Carbondale’s own faculty of world traveling, widely respected, critically acclaimed faculty. This year’s Outside the Box paid particular attention to three of SIU’s composers: Frank Stemper, professor and composer-in-residence; Kathleen Ginther, composer
and the creative and organizing force behind Outside the Box; and Mandat. All three have debuted compositions at top venues, produced commissions, and garnered awards for what they’ve created. And all three work closely with students to share what they know and continue the tradition of music composition from this southern part of a Midwestern state. In addition to their own compositions, Ginther and Stemper worked with composition students for the Unaccompanied Song Project, coordinated by visiting artist Lucy Shelton, one of the featured guests for this year’s festival. The project teams a composition student with a vocal performance student and a poet for a new composition – one specifically for an unaccompanied voice.
Ginther spoke about the process of creating music for one voice from a poem, and described the relationship the composer must have to the poem in order to create a new work of art that remains true to the original vision presented by the poet. “It’s important for a composer to be completely familiar with the text before beginning to set it (to music),” she said. “The composer should read it and speak it aloud many times, so many times that it’s deeply ingrained in the psyche, possibly even memorized. The text, whether a poem or a different kind of text, is always the jumping-off point. The rhythm of the text is very important, the sound, the flow, the punctuation – all of these were chosen specifically by
the poet, and a piece of music based on that poem should reflect the poet’s choice.” She explained that the composer must listen to his or her inner ear to establish a relationship to the poem, deciding where the music should enhance, underscore, or even contradict the words. Stemper explained that producing a piece of music for voice alone can be “terrifying” for both composer and singer. Shelton echoed his thought referring to the singer’s point of view. However, she said, there is much to be gained from a challenge. “The fear of vulnerability is soon replaced by an excitement in discovering solutions,” she said. “The singer becomes totally self-reliant, replacing fear with commitment.”
Research at SIU | Create. Innovate. Educate. Sunday, May 6, 2012 | The Southern Illinoisan | Page 10
COLLEGE OF LIBERAL ARTS
PHOTO BY RUSSELL BAILEY
SIU represented at Posters on the Hill – Esmeralda Zamora, a senior criminology and criminal justice major from Waukegan, and her mentor, Daryl Kroner, associate professor, look over the research poster Zamora presented at the prestigious national undergraduate research forum, Posters on the Hill, in Washington, D.C.
Posters on the Hill:
SIU senior represents in Washington By Andrea Hahn
Esmeralda Zamora had never been to Washington, D.C. She’d never traveled out of state alone. She’d never been in a big city alone before, either. But an undergraduate research project she completed at Southern Illinois University Carbondale opened up a whole new world. Zamora, a senior from Waukegan, represented Southern Illinois University Carbondale on “The Hill” during an annual research exposition in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Council on Undergraduate Research. Zamora, a criminology and criminal justice major, was one of the elite eight percent chosen to present original research at this event. From the hundreds of applications received annually, Zamora is one of only 75 undergraduate researchers selected. She presented her research on mental illness in correctional institutions before lawmakers on April 24. Zamora began her research when she held a double major in psychology and in criminology and criminal justice. She earned a spot in the competitive McNair Scholars Program for SIU Carbondale undergraduates. She knew she wanted a project that would cross over her two majors. Accordingly, she approached Meera Komarraju, director of the undergraduate psychology program, for advice. Komarraju put her in touch with Daryl Kroner, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice and an expert in correctional intervention, offender assessment, and mentally ill offenders. “I was nervous, I met Dr. Kroner for the first time and I asked him to be my mentor,” Zamora said. Not only did Kroner act as her mentor for the McNair
The many undergraduate research opportunities on this campus are another vehicle by which SIU faculty, working in a high-level research university, show interest in mentoring young scholars. It helps set us apart from many research universities where active researchers work only with graduate students. Kimberly Leonard, College of Liberal Arts dean Scholars Program, but he was also instrumental in encouraging Zamora to apply for Posters on the Hill. He is also helping her prepare her research project for publication as a paper. Zamora’s research focus is on those incarcerated in correctional institutions and diagnosed with mental illness. She focused on depression and schizophrenia, and accessed data both from federal and state correctional facilities. Though she was using data collected previously, Zamora was still required to observe the standards set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for “human subjects compliance.” She noted that even preparing to research was a learning experience because of that requirement. Zamora said she knew that previous research by other scholars indicated evidence of a relationship between an individual’s criminal history and his or her behavior once incarcerated. She wanted more specifics: she hoped to learn if there were behavioral trends in these offenders that might help predict violent and non-violent offenses committed within the correctional facility itself. Zamora used data with a federal institution sample of 3,686 individual offenders and a State of Illinois sample of 14,499 individual offenders. She found, ultimately, that some symptoms of depression – anger, feelings of isolation, and extreme restlessness – were
good predictors for both violent and non-violent crime. However, symptoms of schizophrenia did not seem to predict violent behavior, but schizophrenic delusions and hallucinations did seem to lead to verbal assaults. Zamora said she hopes to explore these findings further, perhaps in graduate school. She said future research would examine other factors, such as age, gender, race or ethnicity, and level of education. She’d like to see if those elements combined with mental illness may also contribute to post-incarceration behavior problems. Joseph Schaefer, professor and interim chair of the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, said that providing guided undergraduate research opportunities is a priority for his department, and for the University as a whole. “Ms. Zamora has been active in pursuing such chances,” he said. “Being selected for this prestigious honor is a testament to her hard work, her diligence in developing strong research skills, and the important efforts she is making to advance insight into matters of real-world significance.” In addition to her involvement in the McNair Scholars Program, Zamora is vice president of SPEAR (Students Promoting Educational Advancement and Research), secretary for the SIU Criminal Justice Association, and a Saluki Volunteer Corps member.
PHOTO BY RUSSELL BAILEY
She also recently pledged to the Kappa Delta Chi Sorority, Inc., a service-based organization. Zamora said her postgraduate school plans include work in the field and then, ultimately, teaching. In this, she said, she is inspired by her mentor. “Dr. Kroner has field experience as do several of my other professors,” she said. “It adds so much to the classroom to hear them talk about their experiences, what they’ve actually done, not just studied.” “SIU gave me the opportunity to get involved outside the classroom, and put me in touch with professors who encouraged me to participate in class and in research,” she said. Kroner noted that a research poster includes a significant amount of research, typically the equivalent of at least six
credit hours, or two college courses dedicated just to research. “Posters on the Hill is a highly competitive event,” he said, adding that Zamora’s research provides her with a solid base for future contributions to a growing area of criminal justice research. “I’m so glad for Ms. Zamora and the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice,” Kimberly Leonard, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said. “The many undergraduate research opportunities on this campus are another vehicle by which SIU faculty, working in a high-level research university, show interest in mentoring young scholars. It helps set us apart from many research universities where active researchers work only with graduate students.”
Research at SIU | Create. Innovate. Educate. Sunday, May 6, 2012 | The Southern Illinoisan | Page 11
COLLEGE OF MASS COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA ARTS
POW Documentaries: Telling the tales people should know By Pete Rosenbery
Jan Thompson is answering the question she first posed while attending a prisoner of war convention with her parents 20 years ago. After hearing the stories the veterans told of their time under Japanese control during World War II, Thompson recalls wondering, “Why doesn’t anybody know about this stuff?” So Thompson began collecting stories of the men whom she warmly refers to as “my guys,” even though she didn’t initially know how she was going to present the material. Her subsequent two decades of research included travels all over the United States, throughout Europe and even Australia in search of archival film and documents. The result is an award-winning short documentary and a soon-to-be finished two-hour documentary. An associate professor in the Department of RadioTelevision, Thompson is putting the finishing touches on a two-hour documentary, “Never the Same: The Prisoner of War Experience.” She expects to complete the film this summer. The film features actor Alec Baldwin’s narrative portrayal as Commander Thomas Hayes, an American prisoner who does not survive and dies on a “hell ship” -ships used to transport POWs to Japan and Manchuria for slave labor. The film picks up in the aftermath of the Bataan Death March, which Thompson highlighted in a 2011 documentary, “The Tragedy of Bataan.” That award-winning 30-minute film focused on
I’m highly gratified that it is being used and people find it useful. People are buying (the Bataan DVD) for their children and grandchildren. I believe the reason you go into documentaries is you want to tell a story, and somebody walks away with information that they didn’t have. Jan Thompson, associate professor of radio-television what soldiers faced in a 65-mile forced march after the fall of the Philippines to the Japanese in the spring of 1942. It featured accounts of more than 20 Bataan Death March survivors. The first-person documentary also used archival photos, and never-before-seen Japanese propaganda film footage. The new film will focus on how prisoners survived the remaining years of the war. That includes stories of how prisoners broke their arms so they could stay in a prison camp to escape work duty and the brutality of their Japanese captors. The film also produces poignant moments that show the hardships the men faced, although they found laughter where they could. In one prison camp that raised chickens, 3,000 men “went nuts” on the news that a chicken laid a single egg. One prisoner marched through the camp barracks with the
PHOTO BY STEVE BUHMAN
Telling the story of her guys – Jan Thompson, an associate professor in the Department of RadioTelevision, has spent two decades researching what soldiers faced in a 65-mile forced march after the fall of the Philippines to the Japanese in the spring of 1942. Her award-winning 30-minute film, ‘The Tragedy of Bataan,’ featured the accounts of more than 20 Bataan Death March Survivors. She is putting the final touches on a two-hour documentary, ‘Never The Same: The Prisoner of War Experience,’ which will focus on how prisoners survived the remaining years of the war in prison camps. Thompson’s father was liberated from a Manchurian prison camp in September 1945.
egg on a pillow, singing and celebrating. Thompson’s research found a drawing of the incident in California, and in two separate diary entries. It was during her research that she came upon footage in the National Archives in Washington, D.C., of her father, clearly looking into the camera during the liberation of his Manchurian prison camp in September 1945. The film also features about 140 prisoner-made drawings, ranging from ingenious traps for catching rats and other animals for food, to recipes and cookbooks. Thompson’s previous work includes international efforts that focus on Mexico, India, South Korea and Turkey,
all of which aired on Public Broadcasting Service, with copies available through PBS Home Video. Documentary filmmakers need to interpret visuals and explain the historical context for viewers of their work, almost as “instant experts.” Thompson has never utilized research assistants for the content or the visuals – photos, films, and drawings – of the material. She is responsible for all of that work. “As the writer, producer and editor you have to know the material you have so you cannot delegate too much or you are probably going to miss something,” she said. Her work on “The Tragedy of Bataan” and the upcoming film
is “part of my fiber,” she said. “I think it’s who I am,” Thompson said. There is a potential for other projects relating to Bataan and the POW experience, she said. “I’m highly gratified that it is being used and people find it useful,” Thompson said. “People are buying (the Bataan DVD) for their children and grandchildren. I believe the reason you go into documentaries is you want to tell a story, and somebody walks away with information that they didn’t have.” The documentary has aired on approximately 125 public television stations so far. Thompson helps connect those stations with surviving POWs to enhance their broadcast.
Shalom Sesame: The educational impact This shows the potential of media to make a difference – not only for children but also for their families. Dafna Lemish, Department of Radio-Television chair
By Pete Rosenbery
Beth Spezia relied on a familiar blue and furry friend while conducting research for a master’s thesis at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. With the help of “Sesame Street’s” Grover, Spezia’s recent research involved the educational impact of “Shalom Sesame” on Jewishaffiliated families with young children in Southern Illinois. The case study was part of a three-part research project for Sesame Workshop to evaluate the program’s educational effectiveness on children between three and six years old. Dafna Lemish, chair of the Department of Radio-Television in the College of Mass Communications and Media Arts, was assigned the in-home part of the study, sponsored by “MediaKidz Research & Consulting,” and she supervised Spezia’s Master of Arts thesis based on this project. Sesame Workshop in New York – famous for its flagship educational program “Sesame Street” – released 12 new “Shalom Sesame” episodes with “Grover” and Sesame Street muppets with Hebrew names that initially aired in April 2011 on public television stations in the United States. WSIU Public Television is
PHOTO BY STEVE BUHMAN
Sunny day, sweeping the clouds away – Dafna Lemish, left, chair of the Department of RadioTelevision, and Beth Spezia, outreach coordinator with WSIU Public Broadcasting, researched the educational impact of “Shalom Sesame” on Jewish-affiliated families with young children.
broadcasting several episodes of the programs. Spezia’s portion of the project included meeting with families in Southern Illinois to learn how they use the programs with their children in daily life to strengthen their Jewish identity and knowledge. The families received the DVD programs to watch and also kept family viewing diaries. The programs focus on such topics as Jewish culture, visiting Israel and learning the Hebrew language, letters and
numbers. Spezia relied on seven families with Jewish backgrounds who have children within the age range of three to six years old. All but one of the families are intermarried, where only one spouse is Jewish. Spezia’s research involved three home visits with each family, including one that focused on the child and parents’ interaction with the program. The work was not only fun but also involved collaboration
with other researchers in New Jersey and Atlanta, which have larger Jewish communities, said Spezia, who hopes to defend her master’s thesis in May. Spezia, who is an outreach coordinator with WSIU Public Broadcasting, will pursue a doctoral degree through the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts. The study shows families believe the DVDs were of value in helping parents cultivate their children’s Jewish identify,
enrich their knowledge and experience, and assist them with skills to educate their children, Lemish said. It also shows the program serves different audiences on different levels with different purposes. Parents also appreciate the assistance and educational balance Shalom Sesame provides to their children, who live within and receive more media messages about majority Christian traditions and concepts, Spezia said. The study also emphasizes the important role television can have with children and families. “This shows the potential of media to make a difference -not only for children but also for their families,” Lemish said. Results of this and the larger study will be presented in June at the New Research in Jewish Education (NRJE) conference at Hebrew College in Newton Centre, Mass.
Research at SIU | Create. Innovate. Educate. Sunday, May 6, 2012 | The Southern Illinoisan | Page 12
COLLEGE OF SCIENCE
Digging Deep: Project explores Earth’s crust By Tim Crosby
A geologist at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is still reaping the scientific benefits gained from his stay on an ocean-going research vessel last year, and is hoping to return to that area for more work soon. Eric C. Ferré, professor of geology in the College of Science, worked aboard the drilling ship JOIDES Resolution. He was one of about 30 scientists on the expedition organized by the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, an international research program seeking scientific understanding of the Earth through drilling, coring, and monitoring the sub seafloor. The Earth’s crust is ever changing, but rarely in ways that are visible to the naked eye. Such changes result from forces such as plate tectonics and the formation of new crust beneath the ocean when magma moves up from the planet’s deeper mantle layer. The best places to study this action – areas where the crust is thinnest and the mantle not as deeply buried – are in the Pacific Ocean. One such place off the coast of Panama is home to an area where new oceanic crust is forming at the comparatively “super fast” pace of about 20 centimeters per year. That’s where Ferré joined other elite scientists aboard the highly specialized research ship in May. The team attempted to bring to the surface the deepest rock samples ever extracted from beneath the seafloor, in an attempt to answer many questions about how the Earth’s oceanic crust forms and how the planet handles the heat associated with this massive process. The team sought to drill and recover rock cores that come from more than 1,500 meters below the ocean floor by deepening a hole drilled by a previous expedition. By drilling the already 1,500-meter-deep hole by at least another 400 meters, the scientists sought to recover a type of rock known as “gabbro” in an area of transition between the crust and mantle. The project is another step in the overall goal – begun half a century ago – of ultimately drilling into the mantle itself. The team has produced a preliminary report detailing its early findings that can be
Core on board – After its 5,000-meter ascent from beneath the seafloor to the ocean’s surface, researchers examine rock cores as they arrive onboard the JOIDES Resolution. The group’s work could answer many questions about how the Earth’s oceanic crust forms and how the planet handles heat associated with this massive process.
The heat budget of the planet is crucial to understanding if climate is driven internally or by external forces. Eric Ferré, professor of geology found at http://publications. iodp.org/preliminary_ report/335/. Ferré’s role is examining gabbro, which can tell scientists a lot about how that specific layer of Earth – the oceanic crust – cools over time. It’s an important question, as that particular type of crust covers about 75 percent of the planet’s surface, and how it deals with heat is crucial to understanding other systems, such as climate. “The heat budget of the planet is crucial to understanding if climate is driven internally or by external forces,” Ferré said. “For example, the mechanisms of heat transfer are yet unknown
Research vessel– The JOIDES Resolution, a highly specialized drilling ship, was home to geology Professor Eric Ferré. The ship is dynamically stabilized and is one of only two of its kind of the world.
Checking samples – Professor Eric C. Ferré examines a rock core aboard the drilling ship JOIDES Resolution. After examining and describing all samples macroscopically in details, Ferré helped select the best 10 pieces of the day for further analysis.
in the oceanic crust, which means that we do not know if oceanic water does contribute significantly to cooling the rocks from the lower crust or not.” Ferré’s team wants to understand how the Earth’s crust is formed in such midocean ridges. T The area is home to 15-million-year-old ocean crust that dates to a period of “super-fast” crust formation that allowed the new crust to form a ridge as it piled up faster than the seafloor spread. Ultimately, the research project also will help scientists understand how the Earth gets rid of heat in its oceans, said Ferré, who is charged with organizing the second postexpedition workshop in Corsica in May 2013. Since returning from the expedition, Ferré has submitted a collaborative research
proposal to the National Science Foundation’s Marine Geology and Geophysics program aimed at delving into questions about heat transfer in the oceanic crust. The proposal is in collaboration with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the University of Texas Austin. Ferré also will participate in a workshop in May in Denver titled “Building U.S. Strategies for 2013-2023 Scientific Ocean Drilling.” The goals are establishing ways to prioritize research challenges, ensuring highquality drilling proposals and focusing on timely research challenges, among others. And he isn’t finished. Ferré also is hoping to sail on the upcoming Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 345, which will do research related to his last trip in very
nearly the same area of the ocean. Another benefit has been graduate education at SIU Carbondale. Graduate student Jarek Trela presented his preliminary results from the research during the European Geosciences Union General Assembly in April in Vienna, Austria. Trela, who also presented his research proposals before his master’s committee, has also submitted three grant applications related to the project, Ferré said. The work has its roots in a 1961 research effort to drill through the Earth’s crust and into the mantle. While it failed, scientists remain keen on learning more about the mantle, which can hold the answers to many questions about the planet’s history and composition.
Research at SIU | Create. Innovate. Educate. Sunday, May 6, 2012 | The Southern Illinoisan | Page 13
COLLEGE OF SCIENCE Goblet Cells: Targeting food allergies By Tim Crosby
When someone with food allergies eats the wrong kind of food, the person’s body declares full-scale war, attacking the food protein with everything it has in a desperate attempt to protect the body from what it perceives as a dire threat. And in the process, unfortunately, instead of the protecting the body, this response sometimes ends up gravely harming or even killing it. A researcher at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, however, has helped make some recent discoveries that might lead to new vaccines or targeted drug therapies that would prevent food allergies from causing such harm. And her research, which centers on a new technique for studying the cells in the intestines of living mice and observations using this technique, was shared with the world’s scientific community in a major journal. Vjollca Konjufca, assistant professor of microbiology in the College of Science, is one of the authors of the paper titled “Goblet cells deliver luminal antigen to CD103+ dendritic
It will help us better understand the mechanisms of soluble antigen uptake from the intestinal lumen and induction of immune tolerance to these antigens. It will also open the possibilities of new vaccine designs and drug-targeted therapies. Vjollca Konjufca, assistant professor of microbiology cells in the small intestine.” The paper appeared in “Nature” in March. Konjufca, who arrived at SIU Carbondale in 2010, pioneered the technique for imaging the intestinal tract in living animals while working at Washington University in St. Louis. While working there, she discovered how to use twophoton microscopy to study the interaction of cells in the small intestine of living mice. Konjufca used a chemical to temporarily halt the peristaltic squeezing muscle action in the mouse’s intestines in order to bring the powerful, laser-based microscope to bear. The microscope works by using a laser to excite fluorescent proteins in the living mouse. The fluorescent proteins (or small probes) can be either injected into the blood flow of the mouse or fed to the mice. In addition, mice used in this type of research have
been engineered to express fluorescent proteins in certain cells. The use of different fluorescent colors expressed in cells and antigens injected or fed to the mouse, enables one to keep track of the different teams on the field, so to speak. The microscope has the ability to peer relatively “deep” into the living organism – up to 500 microns – and allows the researchers to observe cells, protein antigens or bacteria that cause infection interacting in the mouse’s gut. The microscope views the action in “slices” of progressive depth that, when assembled by computer software, provide a fascinating peek at life on a microscopic level. It was after developing this technique that Konjufca began making observations that would eventually lead to new discoveries about the socalled “goblet cells” lining the intestinal tract. While tracking
one set of fluorescent antigens working its way through the mouse gut, she observed them being taken in at certain points in the intestine’s villi (fingerlike structures), and being passed deeper into dendritic cells within the villi. “I started wondering how the substance was coming in at those selected spaces, what was the entry point?” she said. “I noticed these little conduit-like structures that penetrated the villi, leaving little tracks and was seeing the antigen enter those.” After some theorizing and further experimentation, Konjufca found that these “channels” were not a part of lymphatics and that neither Salmonella nor Norovirus infection altered the appearance of these structures. However, when she introduced a fluorescent egg protein into the gut, she saw the same reaction.
The distribution of the conduit-like structures caused her to theorize that goblet cells were providing the pathway for antigen entry into the deeper dendritic cells, but she left for SIU Carbondale before having a chance to prove it. Colleagues at Washington University eventually ran the experiments that confirmed Konjufca’s suspicions. Goblet cells, which get their name from their flared, goblet-like conical shape, are known to supply the mucus that lines the inside of the intestinal tract, protecting the epithelial lining. Finding out that they may also act as an inlet for antigens, however, is a potentially important discovery. “It will help us better understand the mechanisms of soluble antigen uptake from the intestinal lumen and induction of immune tolerance to these antigens. It will also open the possibilities of new vaccine designs and drug-targeted therapies,” Konjufca said. The other authors of the paper include Jeremiah R. McDole, Leroy W. Wheeler, Keely G. McDonald, Baomei Wang, Kathryn A. Knoop, Rodney D. Newberry and Mark J. Miller, all of Washington University School of Medicine.
SCHOOL OF LAW White-Collar Crime: Going international By Pete Rosenbery
White-collar crime no longer is limited to an employee siphoning off a few hundred dollars from a local store down the street. Technology in a global economy is paving the way for more complex issues that can involve corporations on an international level. Lucian E. Dervan, an assistant professor of law at the Southern Illinois University School of Law, is researching how corporations respond to international white-collar crime, along with the challenges in conducting internal probes that involve documents and employees outside of the United States. In addition, Dervan, Dean Cynthia L. Fountaine, and five law school students spent a week at a university in Germany last fall examining various aspects of international law, including white- collar crime and international corporate internal investigations. The course last fall proved so successful that the SIU School of Law is expanding the offering into a new course for the upcoming academic year where law school students will have a similar opportunity to study international law in Australia or Jordan during the spring 2013 semester. “SIU Law’s new globalization course is a semester-long course that includes study in another country for one week during the semester. This is an innovative approach to providing opportunities for students who may not be able to participate in a more traditional study abroad program,” Fountaine said. “I am delighted that we are able to offer this opportunity for our students to expand their knowledge of other legal systems and cultures.” Fountaine said an important feature of the trip to Germany
PHOTO BY STEVE BUHMAN
White-collar crime research – Lucian E. Dervan, far right, an assistant professor of law at the Southern Illinois University School of Law, is researching how corporations respond to international white-collar crime and challenges that occur in internal probes outside the United States. Dervan and Cynthia L. Fountaine, law school dean, spent a week in Germany last fall examining various aspects of international law. With Dervan are three third-year law students who participated in the course, from left, Neil Schonert of Olney, Allison Balch Mileur of Murphysboro, and Angela Rollins of Royalton.
last fall is that Dervan was able to involve students in his research through this course, which exemplifies the law school’s student-centered approach to legal education. As the world grows smaller and institutions become more globalized, it is becoming more common for attorneys in all areas of law to experience international issues, Dervan said. Globalization is changing the way businesses and economies operate, along with the practice of law, he said. “It becomes very important to introduce the cultural aspects of international legal issues and also the complexities of engaging in international legal matters,” he said. “This type of program is one of the ways we can bring those experiences into the classroom and help prepare our students for the type of issues they may encounter when they
leave law school.” Prior to spending a week at SRH Heidelberg University studying international law, the students had preliminary sessions with several SIU Carbondale faculty on topics that included language, German history, culture, and the German legal system. Angela Rollins, a third-year law student from Royalton, said the course was her first opportunity to study abroad. She found it beneficial to hear varying perspectives on the subject from international students. Brian Lee, a second-year law student from Lincoln, said the experience was “one of the best weeks of my life.” The experience gave Lee greater insight into legal systems in other countries. Understanding the differences between those systems and the American legal system can
assist attorneys when making decisions on how to deal with legal problems, he said. Allison Balch Mileur, a third-year student from Murphysboro, said her international business class focused on creating relationships across cultures. She hopes to practice law in Hawaii, which is extremely multi-cultural, and the insight she received will be valuable. Neil Schonert, a thirdyear law student from Olney, was in a course that deals with sustainability trends in business. The class focus was on considering potential impacts when making a business or government-related decision, such as building a new road in a city. “It’s always useful to meet new people from different cultures,” he said. “Everyone we met was a business student or going into the legal field.
It becomes very important to introduce the cultural aspects of international legal issues and also the complexities of engaging in international legal matters. This type of program is one of the ways we can bring those experiences into the classroom and help prepare our students for the type of issues they may encounter when they leave law school. Lucian E. Dervan, assistant professor of law We were the only Americans. It was interesting to meet and discuss professional careers and different parts of the world.” The American Bar Association recently asked Dervan to organize a conference on international corporate internal investigations. The conference in December in Frankfurt, Germany, will be for academics, practitioners, and in-house counsel, he said. “Today it is not the case that the only attorneys who will encounter these international issues are those specifically practicing in the international realm,” Dervan said. “The reality of modern practice is that international issues creep up in all types of practice areas. And even if you don’t specialize in international law it’s important to be able to identify when one of these issues is arising and ensure that you bring an expert into the case with you so that you don’t make a misstep.”
Research at SIU | Create. Innovate. Educate. Sunday, May 6, 2012 | The Southern Illinoisan | Page 14
SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
Providing Options: Tissue engineering expands This research can ultimately provide an alternative form of care that can help reduce overall morbidity and mortality as well as reduce the costs. Tissue engineering will provide multiple options, leading to better quality of care. Patients will be able to get back to their lives faster and be happier. Dr. Saadiq El-Amin, III, orthopaedic surgeon By Karen Carlson
Even with preventive measures and cutting-edge treatments, severe orthopaedic injuries necessitate operations and possible replacement of ligaments, hips, even bone. Synthetic transplants made of metal or plastic can work, but the SIU Division of Orthopaedics envisions something even better. Tissue engineering takes the person’s tissues or stem cells and grows them around a scaffold to eventually become an organ, ligament, or bone. Tissue engineering can help meet the organ and tissue shortage without the complications that can result from possible rejection or disease transfer that is possible with transplants. SIU School of Medicine’s Division of Plastic Surgery has
Dr. Saadiq El-Amin III
worked on tissue engineering for years to grow skin and ears. “Tissue engineering is the next level of science,” says SIU orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Saadiq El-Amin, III, who brings expertise in tissue engineering to regenerate bone and ligaments. Tissue engineering can support a graft or create another graft that allows the person’s own tissue to grow — and those tissues are stronger than artificial tissues. Orthopaedics, he says, already has been one of the leaders of tissue engineering products, including biodegradable
sutures, pins, screws, and bone grafts that promote tissue growth. El-Amin has several patents for tissue engineered polymeric scaffolds. In an innovative method, ElAmin uses mesenchymal stem cells — multipotent stem cells derived from a person’s body that can become cartilage, tendon, muscle, or bone. Stem cells buried within fat cells also are being studied for tissue engineering. Yes, scientists have found that adipose (fat) tissue contain stem cells. Here’s the design El-Amin envisions. A polymer created from hydrogel technology
and a polyglycolic acid (basic sugar molecules) becomes a scaffold. A patient’s primordial stem cells (mesenchymal or adipose cells) are placed on the scaffold inside the body. The cells naturally grow onto the scaffold, and the lactic acid cycle of the body naturally absorbs the scaffold. This technique would apply to the meniscus, the ACL, or even bone. Using a person’s own cells — tissue-engineered matrices — is an innovative technique and would prove more cost effective than using products already on the market. “It
also would create new job opportunities for the area,” he explains. El-Amin has several patents for similar concepts of using polymeric materials for scaffolds and an injectable bone material for spinal fusion. SIU Carbondale’s College of Engineering will collaborate on projects. “This research can ultimately provide an alternative form of care that can help reduce overall morbidity and mortality as well as reduce the costs,” ElAmin says. “Tissue engineering will provide multiple options, leading to better quality of care.”
New Hope: Contesting cancer’s long, brutal reign By Rebecca Budde
At the School of Medicine’s Simmons Cancer Institute (SCI), researchers are unlocking the secrets of how cancer works. “Our researchers are developing a deeper understanding of the biology of cancer,” said John Godwin, professor and chief of the hematology and oncology division in the Department of Internal Medicine and associate director of SCI. Creating a drug to target a specific cancer pathway is easier than creating a “superdrug” to defeat multiple cancers. This means that more drugs will be available to treat cancer, but they will target certain cancer types. “We’re beginning to design many, many drugs for those many, many types of cancer,” said Dr. Krishna A. Rao, associate professor of internal medicine and member of the SCI team. According to the National Cancer Institute, these targeted therapies, also called by other names such as small molecules or molecularly targeted drugs, might be more effective at attacking the cancer cells and less harmful to normal cells than traditional treatments such as chemotherapy. Kounosuke Watabe, professor of medical microbiology, immunology and cell biology, strives to find agents to attack the particular targets for metastatic cancers. One promising study uses a natural
We’re beginning to design many, many drugs for those many, many types of cancer. Dr. Krishna A. Rao, associate professor of internal medicine protein called BMP7 to keep the tumor cell dormant in bone metastasis of prostate cancer. “Targeted therapy treats metastatic cancer like a chronic disease,” Watabe said. “It’s almost the same as a cure because people can live longer with a better quality of life.” He hopes for a rapid translation of this cancer research to a clinical trial since BMP7 has already been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)for use in bone fractures. Targeted therapies are being used in clinical trials. For example, a drug called erlotinib (Tarceva®) was first approved by the FDA in April 2010 after many clinical trials showed its benefits for treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Unlike any other medication, this once-a-day pill effectively slows the tumors of non-small cell lung cancer with minimal side effects. According to Godwin, approximately 5 percent of
patients who are diagnosed with (NSCLC) have a specific mutation that can be targeted by erlotinib (Tarceva®). “After a lot of research we discovered that this mutation is the driver in these cases of NSCLC,” Godwin says. “Now we have a target — and we have a drug that hits that target. For this cancer, one pill works better than chemotherapy.” Donna Brown, 67, of Springfield was diagnosed with NSCLC, and test results showed that she has the specific mutation that can be targeted by Tarceva®. Brown was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2006 and treated with curative intent surgery only to have her cancer return in the summer of 2011 and metastasize to her brain and spinal fluid. Doctors didn’t expect her to survive long enough to celebrate Thanksgiving. She returned to Springfield for treatment at SCI after whole brain radiation at Mayo Clinic proved ineffective. “At that time I was told to call hospice, that there was nothing else they could do for my cancer type,” says Brown. When she returned to Springfield, Godwin encouraged her to try Tarceva®, and she finally agreed. “I thought that if I was only going to live a short time, I wanted it to be a good life, and I could deal with these side effects,” says Brown. The targeted therapy has allowed her body to rebound from previous treatments and
grow stronger. Though some subsets of cancer are proving unresponsive to targeted therapies, new scientific knowledge suggests that the patient’s own body may be effective in treating some of these cancers. “One of the best treatment options with long-term benefits is to harness the body’s own immune system to kill the cancer,” says Andrew Wilber, assistant professor of medical
microbiology, immunology, and cell biology. “This can be done either by stimulating the body’s immune system or by giving the body synthetic proteins found in the immune system in order to train it to identify cancer cells and destroy them. We would like to interfere with the tumor so that it doesn’t produce the immune-suppressing molecules but instead lets the immune system act at its normal potential.”
Research at SIU | Create. Innovate. Educate. Sunday, May 6, 2012 | The Southern Illinoisan | Page 15
Impatience leads to business venture We’ve been able to raise a substantial amount of investment capital right here in Southern Illinois and it’s going to stay in the Southern Illinois area. With the University here and the support we have, we are showing that you can have a successful technology business in the region. Benjamin Wasson, orderbolt CEO
By Christi Mathis
In today’s hurry-up world, a pair of Southern Illinois University Carbondale students translated their impatience while awaiting service at a local establishment into a new business venture. Benjamin Wasson, of Hudson, Wis., and Bryce Morrison, of Waukegan, were both Southern Illinois University Carbondale business students during a 2010 University study-abroad trip to Grenoble, France, led by Suzanne Nasco, associate professor of marketing. The two became friends as their knowledge of the business world grew. Then one evening in the spring of 2011, they were at a busy local establishment, waiting for someone to take their order, when their impatience led to an idea. What if there was a smart phone application that would allow you to quickly place your order at a restaurant or bar and pay your bill when you’re ready to leave, rather than having to wait until someone had time to help you? They tossed the idea around a bit but did nothing more until Wasson returned to Grenoble as part of his master’s degree studies in the summer of 2011. As part of a group project, he and his team studied the viability of the business concept and created a business plan that earned positive feedback from faculty and others. Fast forward to 2012 and you will find Wasson and Morrison preparing for the May launch of orderbolt Co., a mobile ordering and payment solution that is debuting in Southern Illinois restaurants and bars. The two have plans for an expansion of the company’s coverage area and also the types of services you can take advantage of and pay for through your telephone. Wasson, who holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science with marketing and business administration minors from SIU Carbondale, will earn his MBA in May and serves as CEO of orderbolt. Morrison, a marketing major, is the
PHOTO BY CHRISTI MATHIS
orderbolt – Bryce Morrison, left, of Waukegan, is COO and Benjamin Wasson, of Hudson, Wis., is CEO for the new mobile ordering and payment solution business orderbolt Co. The business is housed in the SIU Carbondale Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center.
company’s chief operating officer and is taking a semester off from school to focus on orderbolt, but plans to resume his education in the near future. The two say orderbolt is a mobile ordering platform that streamlines customer service. They are confident businesses will also benefit with increased sales and customer retention while customers enjoy improved experiences at those businesses. Already Blue Martin in Carbondale has signed on and the company is seeking other businesses interested in the service. It works like this. Customers scan a QR code on their phones at participating businesses and that prompts them to download the orderbolt app. Or, they can download the app from the company website at www. orderbolt.com. Businesses pay a fee to participate but there is no cost to customers. Then, customers can use the app to place orders on their phones and wait for a server to deliver. Afterward, simply pay your bill by smart phone and leave when you’re ready. Morrison said they anticipate their company will be able to help people do virtually anything they want to do on
their smart phones – whether that involves paying rent or taxes or ordering a diamond tennis bracelet. Likewise, while they are now focusing on providing their services at restaurants and bars in Southern Illinois, they plan to expand to the St. Louis metro area and beyond. Morrison took the top prize in the 2011 College CampCEOSaluki Operation Bootstrap. The intensive weeklong business training program focused on SIU Carbondale student entrepreneurs who planned to start a business in the Illinois Delta Region. The program combines instruction and training with seed capital to help launch businesses with economic impact. The Delta Regional Authority provides funding through the University’s Entrepreneurship and Business Development Unit. Morrison took first place and claimed $7,500 in seed capital along with $2,500 in consulting services, software and materials. “That put us way ahead in our plans and it gave us the credibility and means to find developers and investors and make this really happen,” Morrison said.
Wasson boosted their business acumen as well, participating in Operation Mousetrap, a program that helps University faculty, staff and students commercialize research and innovation technologies. “Our collegiate version of Operation Bootstrap provided a great kick start for one of the founders of the company that resulted in him winning the top award at the business plan and pitch competition. Additionally, Operation Mousetrap provided the other founder with a similar training experienced focused on management of a technology venture. These entrepreneurial training experiences have positioned this company for future success,” said Emily Carter, director of entrepreneurship and business development for the University. Completing the program also enabled the start-up business to have access to a spot in the University’s business incubator at the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center. Wasson and Morrison said that has been crucial in enabling them to recruit Travis Rowland as a lead developer for their team, as well as student interns who help the company
and in turn, get valuable hands-on training in business development and marketing. “Currently a tenant in the Small Business Incubator, orderbolt, and its CEO, Ben Wasson, has had a wonderful working relationship with Southern Illinois Research Park. orderbolt is a startup company demonstrating tremendous growth potential,” said Kyle Harfst, executive director of the Southern Illinois Research Park. Morrison and Wasson also credit their advisers – Nasco and Tom Harness, a double alumnus of the University. Morrison said Nasco has helped them create an effective and timely marketing plan and pricing strategy, and having Nasco and Harness, also a graduate of a previous Operation Bootstrap, and their credentials and expertise on board has also helped enhance their business legitimacy in the eyes of other investors. “We’ve been able to raise a substantial amount of investment capital right here in Southern Illinois and it’s going to stay in the Southern Illinois area,” Wasson said. “With the University here and the support we have, we are showing that you can have a successful technology business in the region.” For more information about orderbolt, visit the website at www.orderbolt.com or email Morrison (bmorrison@ orderbolt.com) or Wasson (email@example.com).
Innovation Engines: University research key By Christi Mathis
When an assistant football coach at the University of Florida asked for help in determining why his players suffered from heat-related health issues, a team of campus researchers traced the problem to a loss of fluids and electrolytes. They developed a new drink to replace the water, electrolytes and carbohydrates. Today, Gatorade is an internationally known sports drink. “Many inventions in the worldwide marketplace today are actually the direct result of university research,” Kyle Harfst, executive director of the Southern Illinois Research Park, said. “Robert Cade and his fellow researchers at the University of Florida created Gatorade and it’s become extremely successful with intellectual property licensing fees benefitting the university, manufacturing businesses earning profits
We are very pleased to say that SIU’s efforts to take the research ideas developed on campus and transfer them to intellectual property and commercial ventures have been growing steadily. The impact of these efforts on creation of new ventures, more successful businesses and high value jobs in the region is sure to continue and grow further. John A. Koropchak, vice chancellor for research and graduate dean and athletes and customers enjoying the health benefits. SIU Carbondale may not have Saluki-ade but we have many successful University discoveries that have advanced to the marketplace and done quite well, and these efforts are growing.” In the 2011 fiscal year alone, the University developed 25 inventions, executed four licenses/options, filed 16 U.S. patent applications, received five new U.S. patents, and brought in more than $677,200 in license income and royalties. Harfst said the idea of technology transfer and commercialization of University research is relatively new but at SIU Carbondale, the developments span a wide spectrum, including the
fields of agriculture, medicine, technology and much more. In the past decade, University researchers and scientists have developed 123 inventions, issued 54 licenses or options for innovations, filed 122 patent applications and received 41 U.S. patents. “Research universities like SIU are increasingly being called upon to be innovation engines, as exemplified by many federal economic development initiatives, such as those related to energy or manufacturing. We are very pleased to say that SIU’s efforts to take the research ideas developed on campus and transfer them to intellectual property and commercial ventures have been growing steadily. The impact of these
efforts on creation of new ventures, more successful businesses and high value jobs in the region is sure to continue and grow further,” said John A. Koropchak, vice chancellor for research and dean of the Graduate School. The Technology Transfer Program, under the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, is the ‘first point of contact” for any faculty or staff inventors on campus, according to Jeffrey K. Myers, senior technology transfer specialist. The office evaluates and determines if the innovation is a good candidate for licensing or has potential to become a start-up business and then proceeds accordingly. Myers said the University has more than 60 patents
pending and a strong record of accomplishments with licenses and startups. During the past 15 years or so the office has had many successes including mining machinery dust control technology, a gas chromatograph (analyzing instrument), carbon dioxide to methanol conversion technology and biotech crop traits. These and other University creations help improve lives and generate income for SIU Carbondale, Myers said. “With our large portfolio of pending and issued patent, we expect to see a great deal of success in the near future,” Myers said. The office also launched the SIU Saluki Concept Fund in November 2011 to help bring promising technologies closer to commercial viability through the award of funds. Myers said one commercialization project is nearly complete and several others are in the works.
Research at SIU | Create. Innovate. Educate. Sunday, May 6, 2012 | The Southern Illinoisan | Page 16
PHOTO BY TIM CROSBY
Coal brewing crew – Three researchers looking into ways to extract valuable chemical precursors from coal work in a lab at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The three work for Thermaquatica Inc., a company started by geology Professor Ken B. Anderson, right, and research professor John C. Crelling, middle. Also pictured is Derek Perry, left, senior design engineer for Thermaquatica.
Thermaquatica: Turning coal into plastic, polymers By Tim Crosby
Pain at the pump has most people thinking about petroleum strictly in terms of the energy it produces. But much of the real economic value of every barrel of crude oil pumped out of the ground does not lie in its energy yield. Instead, it is locked up in the 5 to 8 percent that goes to make chemical precursors that ultimately produce the polymers and plastics that inundate our daily lives. Everything from the carpet under your feet, to the clothes on your back to that plastic water bottle on your desk, started out as oil. The worldwide market for such substances measures well into the trillions of dollars. Petroleum, however, is known for its expense and volatile prices. A barrel of oil costing about $100 means oil is trading for roughly $800 a ton. Coal, on the other hand, another organic carbon-based product known for the energy it produces, goes for about $70 a ton. Now, two geologists at Southern Illinois University Carbondale think they have found a way to extract the same kinds of highly valuable chemical precursors that come from petroleum from the much cheaper, homegrown coal. The process, developed by Ken B. Anderson, professor of geology, and John C Crelling, research professor emeritus of geology, also has led to the development of Thermaquatica Inc., a new company now based at the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center on campus. “The things we are making are the chemicals used to make plastics,” Anderson said. “But instead of starting with petroleum, we are starting with coal. We end up with a range of chemicals, some of which are identical to the ones made from petroleum, others of
which are analogous to those chemicals. But the end result of all of them is that they make polymers and plastics.” The process they’ve developed to do this is not only environmentally benign, but promises high efficiency. In lab tests, they’ve consistently converted up to 100 percent of the coal samples into the chemicals needed to make plastics. Several patents are pending on the process, which uses water, heat, pressure and oxygen to oxidize the coal and “break it” into other forms. The end result looks like something you might see on a sampling night at a microbrewery: Liquid products ranging in color from that of a pale ale to a dark, thicker stout, complete with a foamy head. “That’s actually the terminology we use sometimes in the lab when we’re talking about different formulations,” said Anderson, who is CEO of Thermaquatica. “We say, ‘well, let’s make a pale ale with this batch’ or ‘this one is more of a lager.’” The genesis of the idea behind Thermaquatica dates back to work Anderson conducted years ago on undersea volcanoes. The heat and pressure associated with those natural occurrences taught him something about water’s effects and behavior under those conditions. About six years ago, however, Anderson and Crelling began recognizing the need for a different way to create the chemical precursors needed for plastics manufacturing. Such petroleum-based products, they theorized, would not remain an economic option in years to come. Still, the need for such chemicals, such as the common precursor known as terephthalic acid, shows no sign of waning. Terephthalic acid now trades for about $1,600 a ton, and its price
A lot of our colleagues still don’t believe it. How can it be that simple? Why after 150 years has no one else tried that? Well, I can’t answer that. But we did, and it works better than any one of us dared dream. Ken B. Anderson, professor of geology tracks closely with that of petroleum. “So we’re talking about taking coal at $70 a ton and refining it into a substance like terephthalic acid, which goes for $1,600 ton,” Anderson said. “There appears to be a very good margin here and plenty of room for the costs of refinement and processing.” The pair initially brainstormed what the characteristics of a different process might ideally look like. Minimal environmental impact was key, and the end product needed to be in a liquid form, so a solvent of some sort was needed. “We knew in nature that water and oxygen will break down coal, so we had an example,” Crelling said. But that natural oxidation ended in powdered coal and carbon dioxide. The researchers had to find a way to use the same concept but arrest it before it went that far. So the process they came up with generally brings water, heat, pressure and oxygen together for the right amount of time in a continuous flow, rather than a batch method. Water is an amazingly good solvent under such conditions, they said, and it can “cut” the key molecular bonds in coal’s myriad chemistry, effectively turning it into liquid chemicals. Thermaquatica incorporated in late 2010 and by the following
June it had offices and lab space at Dunn-Richmond, where they began proving the concept worked. And it works like a dream, Anderson said. “We thought early on that we’d get some chemical and a lot of leftover coal residue, which could be burned as normal. But it didn’t work like that. The entire amount of coal was converted,” Anderson said. “We couldn’t believe it at first,” Crelling said. “We made them do it over and over and we kept getting the same result.” “I kept telling my lab tech he was screwing up,” Anderson said with a chuckle. “We thought ‘this can’t be true. It can’t be this easy.’” Even now, after years of testing, the simplicity of the concept is difficult for some. “A lot of our colleagues still don’t believe it. How can it be that simple? Why after 150 years has no one else tried that? Well, I can’t answer that. But we did, and it works better than any one of us dared dream,” Anderson said. The researchers used about $1 million in state economic development grant money to test the concept at the laboratory level, where it has proven very robust. “We’ve tried to break the process and we can’t,” Anderson said. The company now is raising private money and working with a private engineering firm on design and manufacture of a pilot plant that they hope to begin operating at Dunn-Richmond this summer. The pilot plant will scale up the lab process from tiny amounts to up about 10 pounds daily. If all goes well at that stage – if the idea manages to cross the dreaded “Valley of Death” that often exists between good ideas that work well in the lab but struggle to break into commercialization – the
company will next build a demonstration plant that would process about 5 tons per day before a full-scale production facility. Anderson is quick to credit the programs at the University that encourage and guide entrepreneurship. In particular, he cited Operation Mousetrap, which helps research scientists like himself navigate the ins and outs of incorporating a business while teaching them to speak the language of business in order to communicate their idea’s potential to private industry. Participants learn about testing their innovations and business concepts, exploring entrepreneurship, identifying funding and working with investors, protecting their business and intellectual property and planning for financial success. “Scientists don’t necessarily know how to do those things because it’s not what we do every day,” Anderson said. “It can be very daunting, figuring out how you’re going to set the company up, how to organize the taxes and hire people. This program helped us do those things so that we could get our idea moving.” In addition to Anderson and Crelling, the company now has one full-time employee, Derek Perry, of Flora, who earned his master’s degree in mechanical engineering at SIU Carbondale and is now Thermaquatica’s senior design engineer and is growing. It also has several part-time employees and subcontractors working for it. For Anderson, the idea that the years of basic science that researchers such as himself and Crelling have done may pay off in the form of valuable jobs and economic development is highly rewarding. The company also is looking at converting biomass – anything from grasses to sawdust – into such chemicals using a similar process.